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How the COVID-19 chief plans to reduce infection in Uman next year

CM 13/09/2021


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Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Salman Zarka spent only one day in Uman, Ukraine, but he said his time there was “eye-opening” and has helped him understand how the Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov could be managed better.
Zarka left for Uman on Thursday morning on an overnight trip to oversee an outline for Uman travel prepared by the Health and Religious Affairs ministries.
The event was, in fact, chaotic, he told The Jerusalem Post, adding that the Health Ministry’s plan to send Magen David Adom to the country to assist in screening travelers for coronavirus did not go as planned.

But Zarka was not deterred and said the situation could be managed better next year. Here is his plan:

1) Designate a testing agent

“There needs to be one testing agent that everyone is required to test through before returning to Israel,” Zarka said.
This could be MDA, Hatzalah or a local company that is approved as meeting professional standards by the Health Ministry, “but anyone who wants to return would have to present a negative result from that testing agent and not another,” he said.
This year, while MDA was present, it was not exclusive, and travelers complained there were not enough testing complexes. In addition, due to a lack of uniformity of testing certificates, it was challenging for airport personnel to differentiate between legal and forged documentation.
Zarka said he would recommend making the tests free.
“The cost would be worth it to stop the infection from coming here,” he added.

2) Arrange to transfer positive cases back to Israel

What happens if an Israeli hassid tests positive for COVID-19? According to this year’s plan, he was supposed to stay in Kyiv until receiving a negative test result. Instead, hundreds of infected people boarded airplanes and returned home.
Zarka said this was a problem of planning.
“Many of these people, for whatever reason – and likely socioeconomic – don’t have travel insurance, and if they test positive, they do not have the means to stay in Ukraine,” he said. “I think we need to set up in advance a plane to transport people [who test] positive back to Israel. They can all go on the same flight.”
This would not only be helpful to the travelers, it also would help Israel-Ukraine diplomatic relations, Zarka said.
“They do not like and do not want our positive cases hanging around in Ukraine,” he said.

 CORONAVIRUS ‘CZAR’ Prof. Salman Zarka attends a press conference in Jerusalem on Sunday (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) CORONAVIRUS ‘CZAR’ Prof. Salman Zarka attends a press conference in Jerusalem on Sunday (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

3) Require isolation in state-run COVID hotels

Finally, Zarka said it must be understood that people who test positive will be quarantined in a state-run coronavirus hotel to keep infection out of their homes and communities.
Because haredim (ultra-Orthodox) tend to have larger families living in smaller spaces, isolating from one another is difficult, and the virus tends to spread faster.
Currently, around 21% of all coronavirus infections in Israel are among haredim, even though they are 12%-13% of the population.
“We need to be transparent from the beginning,” Zarka said. “Anyone who wants to fly should be allowed to, but they should know that this will be the plan and that they cannot come back and infect others.”
A list of all returnees who tested positive has been turned over to the police, as is the case with anyone who tests positive for the virus, and their self-isolation is supposed to be monitored, Zarka said.
However, there is no special protocol for monitoring those who returned from Uman, and police only check in on about 6,000 isolated people per day, Public Security Ministry Director-General Tomer Lotan told the Post Sunday.
Regarding the issue of forged certificates, Zarka said around 250 people are thought to have flown, knowing they had the virus, and criminal cases have been opened against them. But about 25,000 hassidim traveled to Ukraine, and not everyone should be stigmatized, he said.
“I do not regret traveling to Uman at all,” he added. “I met with the hassidim, these true believers, and I feel now and understand why there was no way to stop this pilgrimage.”
Zarka said he discovered in Uman everything people had described: On the one hand, people ignored the coronavirus rules, and there were no masks or social distancing. On the other hand, these were incredibly spiritual people who were there for the prayers.
“It is in their blood; it is their faith, a mitzvah,” Zarka said. “It really strengthened my understanding that this is going to happen every year. We cannot stop it, so we need to figure out how to reduce the risk.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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