F.o School resumed for two and a half million children in Israel on Wednesday after the summer vacation. At the same time, the number of newly reported new infections in the country is more than ten thousand a day. Local media spoke of a high risk game.
The Director General of the Ministry of Health rejected this. According to Nachman Ash, he also expects a temporary increase in the number of infections due to the start of school. But the government wants to keep the economy and the school system open. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke on Wednesday of two million corona tests carried out before school started.
A quarter of a million students start home schooling
The Ministry of Education had sent the parents of school-age children under the age of twelve home a quick test so that only students who had tested negative in class before the first class could begin. For children from the age of twelve and teachers, the Green Pass, a certificate for those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered, is valid.
In the currently more than fifty communities with high numbers of infections, schools in grades eight to twelve are only allowed to open if at least seventy percent of the students have been vaccinated at least once. From September 30th you have to be vaccinated at least twice. Around 250,000 students therefore began the school year in quarantine via distance learning.
Lists of unvaccinated teachers
From now on, teachers are only allowed to enter their workplaces if they have been vaccinated, recovered or have been tested negative at their own expense no more than 72 hours ago. The Ministry of Education has reportedly already had lists drawn up of teachers who have not been vaccinated. That should be around ten percent. Education Minister Jifat Schascha-Biton spoke of 18,000 teachers who had not been vaccinated.
For almost half a year there were only a few restrictions in Israel in view of the lower infection rates in the spring. But for a few days now, the number of people infected every day has been higher than ever before during the pandemic. There is disagreement among the public about the reasons, usually three are mentioned.
Too Much Freedom?
In Israel, after the first successes in vaccination, the mask requirement and assembly restrictions were lifted. Hall concerts took place again, and the Green Pass was no longer used. “That was a mistake,” says Nihaya Daoud, Professor of Public Health from Ben Gurion University in Beershev. “The people got the impression that they were free now.”
During this period of supposed freedom, the arrival of the far more infectious Delta variant, brought back from abroad by Israelis, arrived. While virologists suspected that from a vaccination rate of sixty percent the population had approached herd immunity in the alpha variant, this no longer applied to the more aggressive delta variant.
Third vaccination as a solution
In the Ministry of Health in Jerusalem, the high number of infections was recently attributed to the declining effect of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines that had been inoculated in Israel since the beginning of the year. The authorities tried to substantiate this with preliminary observational studies.
The government is therefore promoting the booster vaccination, i.e. a third dose, as the method of choice. At the end of July, the authorities started booster vaccinations if the second vaccination had been at least five months ago. All Israelis aged twelve and over are now entitled to do so. More than two million have received triple vaccinations so far. The government wants to avoid another lockdown.
According to bioinformatician Eran Segal, the number of seriously ill hospitalized people had doubled every ten days for 45 days. But this exponential increase has now been stopped two weeks after the booster vaccinations began. On Monday, half of the newly reported infected were students or school employees.
According to Segal, this is not least due to the mass tests that are currently being carried out. So far, there has been little sign of panic in Israel. The reproduction rate is falling and is currently 1.09. The number of seriously ill people hospitalized has fallen to 689. Nevertheless, 7.6 percent of the tests recently came back positive.