113,648 Cases, 909 Deaths: Israel’s Lab Workers On Strike, Threaten To Halt COVID-19 Tests

Illustrative. Coronavirus lab at Hadassah Hospital (Photo: Hadassah Hospital)

Israel’s Health Ministry reported 898 new coronavirus cases on Sunday morning, a typically low number following the weekend, when a low number of tests are carried out. There are currently 20,151 active coronavirus cases, with 441 seriously ill patients, of whom 121 are ventilated. The death toll has risen to 909.

The coronavirus cabinet is scheduled to convene on Sunday to vote on implementing coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu’s “traffic light” program, which divides cities into “red,” “orange,” or “green,” according to their infection rates. According to the plan, the opening of schools in red zones may be delayed.

About 2,000 Israeli lab workers began an open-ended strike on Sunday morning following a breakdown in negotiations between the Finance Ministry and public lab workers on Thursday.

Lab workers in public hospitals and public health labs of the health ministry will perform only emergency and life-saving laboratory tests during the strike, such as those in emergency rooms, trauma units, the ICU, operating rooms (for emergency surgical procedures only) and labor rooms. In addition, full service will be provided for oncological and hematological patients.

Patients who test positive for the coronavirus will be informed of their results in order to prevent further infection but patients who test negative for the coronavirus will not be informed of their results during the strike. However, the head of the Labs Workers’ Union, Esther Admon, threatened to halt the notification of coronavirus carriers as well if the lab workers’ demands are not met swiftly.

The laboratory workers of Clalit, one of Israel’s four health funds, are also participating in the strike. The lab workers of the other three health funds, Meuchedet, Maccabi, and Leumit, which operate private labs, will not be participating in the srike.

The lab workers are demanding that their salaries be significantly increased and the work conditions in laboratories, which haven’t changed since 1995, be updated.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)