The Health Ministry has been having a hard time locating potential coronavirus cases who require isolation in ultra-Orthodox cities, according to officials in the ministry and in local governments.
Health Ministry data backs this up, too. The challenge comes from ultra-Orthodox Israelis’ lack of access to the media, said an official in the Health Ministry office dedicated to providing information to the ultra-Orthodox community.
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“Yeshiva students do not have smartphones,” the official said. “They certainly are not connected to the internet and television. We are doing what we can through posters on the street, loudspeakers on the streets, letters from rabbis – but all this is in the area of giving information. To reach the individual citizen and inform him that he needs to enter isolation is an operation on a completely different scale.”
As of Monday afternoon, Tel Aviv has seen 261 coronavirus cases and about 15,500 people in isolation since the beginning of the crisis, according to data obtained by Haaretz. The majority secular cities of Haifa, Rishon Letzion and Be’er Sheva, have between 54 and 90 cases, and some 5,000 people in isolation, each. Similarly, there have been 75 patients in Modi’in and some 6,000 in isolation in the city, and 80 people infected and 3,400 in isolation in Netanya.
In Jerusalem, the Israeli city with the highest number of coronavirus patients – 573 – 13,000 have entered isolation since the beginning of the crisis. Bnei Brak has the second-highest number of those infected – 508 – and fastest pace of infection nationally. However, only 1,800 residents have entered isolation.
Elad, another ultra-Orthodox city, had only one confirmed case last Monday, and has 62 a week later, while the number of residents in isolation is just 500. Other ultra-Orthodox cities have similar numbers. Beit Shemesh has 64 infections and 1,000 in isolation. Modi’in Ilit has 34 infections and 450 in isolation.
“Most of those who go into isolation here are people who heard through word of mouth that they were near a corona patient,” a Bnei Brak city official said