Coronavirus: towards a second wave of the epidemic in Israel?

Thursday, May 28, the information is far from buzzing: three students from one of Jerusalem’s oldest high schools, Gymnasia HaHivri, were diagnosed with Covid-19. For Israelis who are about to celebrate Shavuot, the feast of the Gift of the Torah and the Harvest, deconfinement is the order of the day. With the reopening of schools, beaches, parks, hotels, and even the partial reopening of bars, cafes and restaurants, the time has come for euphoria, with a slogan among the population: “Le corona, c ‘is finished ! “

In eight days, in Jerusalem, we went from 3 patients to 213

Unfortunately, after the party and the weekend that followed, the awakening was painful. Since then, the contamination curve has been on the rise again. First city concerned: Jerusalem. This time, the centers of infection are not ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, but secular educational establishments. In a few days, the epidemic, part of Gymnasia, affected many schools – from primary to secondary through kindergartens and kindergartens. It must be said that this school is a regional establishment. Its 1,000 students and teachers come from across Greater Jerusalem, often by school transport. Without forgetting the extracurricular activities of the afternoon, sport, scouting, which take place with the pupils of other schools, secular or religious nuns. Result: in eight days, in Jerusalem, we went from 3 patients to 213, students and teachers. A dozen schools are closed; others are partially so, with children from many confinement classes. While many parents, who were back at work, saw their employers begging them to stay at home.

Read also Coronavirus: in Israel, ultra-Orthodox refuse containment

But the resumption of the epidemic does not only concern Jerusalem. In fact, the whole country is affected. Today, nearly 90 educational establishments are closed, with a total of 301 contaminated students and teachers. Almost 14,000 young people and teachers are again confined.

How did we get here ? If, when the schools reopened in early May, the instructions of the Ministry of Health were observed – setting up small groups of students, respecting social distances, wearing a mask -, very quickly we returned to the life before: overcrowded classes where social distancing was only an old memory, especially among teenagers, where hugs and hugs quickly resumed their rights, while the mask had become “neck band” or ornament at the bottom from the bag. The teachers and supervisors quickly gave up, faced with the ineffectiveness of their calls to order.

At the door of the school, we all had the mask, but after, it was relaxed. As soon as we could, we removed them.

The long heat wave that hit the region did nothing. Especially since due to the hot weather, the Ministry of Health announced that all students in the country were exempt from wearing the mask in class. This weather episode and the speed of deconfinement to get the economy back on track got the better of health security. Questioned by the media, the young people from the high schools all tell the same story, like Talia, a second year student in Jerusalem and back home: “It’s true, at the door of the school, we all had the mask, but after , it was slack. It was very hard to start them. So as soon as we could, we removed them. And then at recess, the barrier gestures were forgotten. After classes, it was group walks in neighborhood cafes. In fact, today I am very relieved to be home again with Zoom lessons! “

Arm wrestling between ministers of education and health

So are we going towards a new closure of all schools in the country? For the moment no ! The new Minister of Education, Yoav Galant, is against it. According to him, the current rates of contamination do not justify such a measure: “It would be,” he said, an irresponsible blow struck at the students, the parents and the teachers. According to the media, he is said to be very upset with the Ministry of Health, which he accuses of “spreading panic”. The fact remains that he obviously has the support of Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister, while reminding the population of the importance of barrier gestures, only decided to close any school where “even a single case of coronavirus would be detected”. Determined to continue his momentum, Yoav Galant, for his part, announced that the municipalities and school directors were free to decide whether or not to return to distance education. What had the gift to make jump the president of the Union of the teachers of the secondary. In a letter sent to its members, he denounces “the quasi-anarchy which reigns within the ministry, with the announcement of decisions which do not engage any more its responsibility but yours, in the event of problems related to Covid-19”.

Knesset closed all day after MP tested positive

In the meantime, the virus has left one last victim in the country’s institutions. Yesterday, Thursday, the Knesset was closed all day after a deputy, Sami Abu Shehadeh, from the Arab list, tested positive. Not knowing he was a carrier, he would have met many people in the past few days. Activities during which he would not have worn a mask; several shots of him prove it. Hence his message on Twitter: “I call anyone who has been in close contact with me to isolate themselves and have a test. Follow the instructions from the Ministry of Health. The virus still exists and the return to the routine facilitates its propagation in a fast and important way. “

Numerous offenses against the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people

A message that continues to hammer health officials, with this rise in the contamination curve, but that the general public has difficulty integrating. Witness the numerous infractions of the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people: football fans celebrating the victory of their team! Celebrity evenings or crowded beaches, without any social distance. This Friday morning, in Israel, the results since the start of the pandemic were as follows: out of 17,495 patients with Covid-19. 15,013 have recovered. 291 died. 2,191 are sick, including 23 on a ventilator.

Read also When the coronavirus promotes peace in the Middle East

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