Israel: 325,035 Cases, 2,735 Deaths: 5th & 6th Graders Resuming School Next Week

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File photo. Education Ministry meeting (Photo: Education Minister Yoav Gallant Twitter)

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Israel’s Health Ministry reported 861 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday morning, with tests showing a positivity rate of 1.8%. There are currently 8,030 active virus cases, with 313 seriously ill patients, of whom 135 are ventilated. The death toll has risen to 2,735.

Israel’s coronavirus cabinet voted on Monday night to ease further restrictions, allowing 5th and 6th graders and 11th and 12 graders in “green” and “yellow” locales, with low virus rates, to return to school as well as the reopening of strip-malls with more than 20 stores. The cabinet also approved the imposition of curfews in “orange” zones, areas with medium to high infection rates.

Fifth and sixth graders will return to school next week, on Tuesday, November 24, and 11th and 12 graders will return on December 1.

The new regulations inclue an expansion of the criteria for imposing local lockdowns in “red” zones, and nighttime curfews will be enforced in “orange” zones, pending legislation on the issue.

It was also decided at the meeting to launch a pilot program for the reopening of indoor malls. The pilot will begin with the reopening of one mall in reduced conditions, and if successful, will be expanded to additional indoor malls.

The cabinet also approved designating the tourist city of Eilat and the Ein Bokek area of the Dead Sea as “special tourist islands,” which will allow hotels in those areas to reopen under specific criteria, including allowing entry only to those who present a negative coronavirus test from the previous 72 hours.

Accoring to a Channel 12 News report, some Health Ministry officials are furious that the easing of restrictions is continuing despite the fact that the basic reproduction rate (the number of people each COVID-19 carrier infects) is on the rise and is over 1.0, which means that the number of active virus cases is increasing. A basic reproduction rate of 0.8 has been previously designated as the threshold number for the easing of restrictions.

Additionally, health officials say, the easing of regulations are being carried out before two weeks have passed since the the prior reopenings, contrary to plans to wait two weeks between each phase to ensure that each step isn’t leading to virus spikes

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)