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COVID: School year start may be postponed if morbidity doesn’t drop – Ash

CM 16/08/2021

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If the coronavirus morbidity does not decrease, the beginning of the school year might be postponed, Health Ministry’s Director General Prof. Nachman Ash said Monday, as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened a meeting about the question on how to carry out vaccination in schools, an issue that has generated sharp tensions between the Health and Education ministries.
“If we do not see a slowdown in morbidity, we will reach a situation where we are forced to postpone the start of the school year,” Ash said speaking to Radio Kan, noting that there is only a limited number of working days in the year.
Later in the day, Bennett and other relevant government officials are going to discuss the proposal of Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton in order to allow vaccination stations to operate in schools up until the beginning of the school year, and then before and after school hours once they are back in sessions.

Shasha-Biton has been opposing carrying out a vaccination campaign in schools, arguing that students should be able to feel in a protected environment where things are back to normal and to focus on their studies after the disruption brought by the pandemic in previous year. Health Ministry Nitzan Horowitz has been insisting that there is no better way to increase the number of young people vaccinated, which is considered crucial to stop the new wave in a time of emergency.
According to the Health Ministry, the vaccination rate among children who have already turned 12 is around 30%, in the cohort 13-15 around 42% and among those ages 16-19 stands at 70%.
Late on Sunday, the ministry announced new limits on event halls capacity, capping the number of guests they can welcome to 400 indoors and 500 outdoors.
According to a statement, the decision was made earlier in the day by an inter-ministerial committee – as opposed to the coronavirus committee – and would come into effect next Sunday, August 22.
In the meantime, the new system of travel restrictions came into effect on Monday. All inbound travelers are now required to fully isolate even if they are vaccinated or recovered unless they come from a selected list of yellow countries – under the previous system, nations which required quarantine had to be explicitly mentioned and approved.
At the moment, the list of yellow countries includes Hong Kong, Hungary, Taiwan, Moldova, New Zealand, China, Singapore and the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, most countries were taken off from the group of red countries, where Israelis cannot travel to unless they obtain a permission from the devoted government Exceptions Committee and which also requires full isolation for returnees.
As of Monday, the list included Bulgaria, Brazil, Georgia, Mexico, Spain and Turkey.
Full isolation in Israel lasts two weeks, which can be shortened to seven days with two negative PCR tests.
In addition, beginning on Wednesday, the green pass system will be expanded to all activities and venues except for malls and stores, for which the Purple Ribbon outline will be brought back, allowing a maximum of one person per seven square meters (stores less than 100 sq.m. will be exempt).
Under the green pass system, only individuals who are vaccinated, have recovered, or have undergone a rapid test in the previous 24 hours will be entitled to enter certain venues.
Some 5,075 new cases were recorded on Sunday when over 6% of the people screened tested positive, the highest since February. During weekdays last week, Israel registered around 6,000 cases a day, but with a higher number of tests – data from Sunday is still influenced by the effect of the weekend when less tests are taken and processed.
The number of serious patients stood at 531 – marking only a slight increase from the previous day. On Sunday Health Ministry’s Director General Prof. Nachman Ash said that they are hoping to see a decrease in serious morbidity in the coming days thanks to the effect of the third vaccine.
So far, some 964,000 individuals have gotten a booster.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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