Mobile coronavirus testing clinic opens for Arab village of Arara
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Mobile coronavirus testing clinic opens for Arab village of Arara

Joint List MK Tibi says his party appealed to Health Minister Litzman and other authorities to establish testing site in Arab community

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Magen David Adom medical team members, wearing protective gear, handle a coronavirus test sample at a drive-through site for testing in Tel Aviv, on March 22, 2020. (Flash90)
Magen David Adom medical team members, wearing protective gear, handle a coronavirus test sample at a drive-through site for testing in Tel Aviv, on March 22, 2020. (Flash90)

A mobile clinic to test for the highly contagious coronavirus was opened in the Arab village of Arara on Monday, the Health Ministry said.

It will be going to Tamra in the Galilee on Tuesday, according to Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi.

The mobile clinic will also imminently be sent to Rahat in the Negev Desert, Ahmad Darawshe, Tibi’s spokesman, stated.

On Sunday, Tibi said that the Joint List had appealed to Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov and Magen David Adom emergency and rescue service head Eli Bin about erecting a testing center in the Arab community.

Tibi and other members of the Joint List, a coalition of the four largest Arab-majority parties, have contended that medical authorities have not tested enough Arab Israelis for the virus, but have also said some members of the Arab community hesitate to contact Magen David Adom when experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.

“It isn’t shameful to be tested or be sick,” Tibi said on Sunday in a recorded message alongside Bin, stating that Arabs were not more immune to the virus than anyone else in Israel.

Joint MK Ahmad Tibi walking alongside Magen David Adom emergency and rescue service head Eli Bin. (Credit: The Office of MK Ahmad Tibi)

Magen David Adom deputy spokesman Nadav Matzner, however, pushed back against criticism that heath authorities have not done enough tests on Arabs, noting that anyone who meets the criteria gets tested.

He also noted that Arabs have come to drive-thru clinics to test for the virus in Haifa and other areas in Israel.

Asher Shalmon, the Health Ministry’s director of international relations, said authorities take into account whether a person was experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and if he or she recently traveled abroad or was near an infected person when deciding whether he or she needs to be tested.

Tibi said the Joint List also hopes to convince the Health Ministry to relax its criteria specifically for testing Arabs for the virus.

He said such a move would increase the number of Arabs being tested for it.

The Haaretz daily reported on Sunday that Health Ministry data provided to local Arab officials stated that only 38 residents of Arab communities have tested positive for the virus. The newspaper said the figure did not take into account East Jerusalem or mixed Jewish-Arab towns such as Haifa or Ramle.

The Health Ministry said, as of Monday afternoon, that 4,247 people in Israel have tested positive for COVID-19, including 132 who have recovered and 16 who died.

On Sunday, Bin, the Magen David Adom head, also said that the emergency service would open an Arabic-language hotline.

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