Corona report: 35.6% of Israeli cases contracted domestically, quarter of those in synagogues

According to a new report, hotels and restaurants accounted for 27 percent of all coronavirus cases not contracted abroad, with synagogues accounting for 24 percent of domestically-infected cases.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An analysis of coronavirus victims revealed on Tuesday that 35.6 percent of Israelis were infected domestically, 46.9 percent were infected outside of Israel, and 4.4 percent were infected in their homes, with the source of infection remaining unknown in 13.1 percent of cases.

The Corona National Information and Knowledge Center, which advises the Ministry of Health and Home Front Command, carried out the study, which looked at over half the cases verified in Israel.

Of the 35.6 percent of Israelis who were infected domestically, 24 percent of these cases were contracted in synagogues, with hotels and restaurants accounting for another 27 percent.

Many houses of worship and yeshivot (Torah-learning centers for young men), which account for another five percent of cases, remained open in the ultra-Orthodox sector, due to the primacy of Torah study and prayer in Judaism.

Religious leaders have started waking to the danger of the epidemic. Unlike at the start, leading rabbis have now called for their followers to obey the government stricture of no more than 10 people in a room, each keeping a distance of two meters.

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Stores and supermarkets tied for fourth place as contagion points, with seven percent each, while malls only accounted for two percent of cases.

This likely reflects the fact that indoor malls were closed by the government relatively quickly, while supermarkets and stores selling essential products are still open.

The report also looked at the medical supply situation. It found that Israel mainly lacks N95 masks, designed for a very close facial fit and  efficient filtration of airborne particles. Countries that produce such masks have limited their export, the report says.

Israel is also short of swabs that are used in testing for the coronavirus. As a result, only one swab is being used instead of the usual two, but the report deems this acceptable practice.

“In some countries of the world, sampling for a corona diagnosis is done with a single swab, with a combined throat and nose [swipe] or throat swab only, in contrast to two swabs in Israel. This insight helped the Ministry of Health decide to move to sampling using a single swab,” the report says.

The Corona National Information and Knowledge Center includes researchers from the academic and medical worlds, the IDF Intelligence Corps and security agencies.