Israel is in the middle of its fourth wave of the Coronavirus pandemic as the Delta variant rampages through the country. It is, therefore, no surprise that the Chareidi sector has begun to see a significant rise in the number of infections within the community at a similar rate to the rest of the population.
However, according to coronavirus commissioner Professor Salman Zarka, the numbers are spiking far beyond what they should be.
Professor Zarka shared this information with other high-ranking officials in the Health Ministry and select members of the media in a closed briefing on Wednesday. According to the information he shared, the number of daily cases has been progressively rising over the past week and now accounts for 10% of daily cases.
Zarka told those present that “The infection rate in the Chareidi society is higher than in the Arab and general society. The data tells the story.”
The reproduction rate, what is usually termed as “R” has hit 1.6 in the Chareidi sector as opposed to 1.29 in other sectors of society, meaning that the morbidity rate is rising faster as more people are getting infected in the Chareidi sector.
According to Profesor Zarka, the secular community makes up 83% of new cases on a daily basis and the Arab community comprises 6%.
Zarka said that the increase is likely due to schools opening on the first of the Hebrew month of Elul, nearly one month before schools in the rest of the country.
The Health Ministry launched serological testing among Chareidi students under the age of 12 last week. So far, around 16% of the community’s youth has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, meaning they had the virus and did not know.
“Childhood infection is not child’s play,” Zarka warned. “There are side effects.”
According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, health officials are working with the Chareidi leadership to finalize an outline for the education system, including yeshivas, which should be complete within a few days. The officials are also working on a final plan for the Kosel and shuls which tend to see large crowds over the Yomim Tovim.
“I really want the Chareidi public to be able to celebrate the Yomim Tovim,” Zarka said. “But if you look at the morbidity data, and when I compare July versus August and September, I worry that I see high morbidity and mortality. My job is to save lives.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)