On Sunday, Israel’s Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein said that the coronavirus crisis in the country was worse than it had been in September before the second lockdown had been imposed. He said that he would now be pushing for a complete lockdown, which would include the full closure of schools. A meeting of the coronavirus cabinet is expected on Tuesday for weighing options amidst the increasing cases of COVID-19 in Israel, along with the rapid vaccination campaign that has been launched.
Visiting a Clalit vaccination center in Nazareth, the health minister said that the situation had become very difficult, more than it had been in September. Edelstein said that he would recommend schools to be closed for two weeks because they need to deliver a strong blow to the disease. It is expected that cabinet ministers will evaluate various recommendations made by the Health Ministry, which include reducing the number of people allowed to go to work at businesses that don’t welcome the public.
The previous percentage was 50%, but the recommended one is 30%. Reducing public transportation is another recommendation, but the biggest battle is expected over the decision of whether to close schools or not. The Health Ministry wants the whole system to be shut down, but it is likely to agree to a compromise where preschools and grades 1-4 and 11-12 would be opened in green and yellow cities, whereas grades 5-10 will have to go for home learning.
Yoav Gallant, the Education Minister, said that he wouldn’t have a problem with the compromise plan, as did Haim Bibas, the head of local authorities. Gallant urged his colleagues to support the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by approving the operation of the education system during the period of closure, which was approved by the government and refused by the Knesset Education Committee. He said that if they adopt the new outline, it would help in maintaining the health of students, as well as the teaching staff, and also ensure an appropriate educational response.
The number of infected students is increasing steadily. Currently, 10,000 students have been infected, along with 2,000 teachers. However, the Education Ministry recently shared data indicating that 85% of the infections don’t happen at school. Nonetheless, the school system is still not able to operate fully, even though it is open. In addition, teachers who have wanted to get vaccinated because of open schools have not been permitted to get inoculated. The National Student and Youth Council said that the education system had been deeply abused and the youth has become a scapegoat.
However, the numbers are clearly worrisome. According to the Health Ministry, 4,141 people tested positive on Saturday and even more on Sunday. Nearly 761 people are hospitalized and almost 100 of them are intubated. Over the weekend, nearly 50 people have died and there are 264,000 people that are currently in isolation. It appears that the virus is winning for now against the vaccine, even though Israel has vaccinated more people than any other country in two weeks.