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Virus quarantine to be shortened from 14 to 12 days, health minister says

New pilot will be finalized within days, remain in effect until end of 2020, Edelstein says, with goal to enable ‘maximum freedom’

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein speaks during a press conference at Airport City, outside Tel Aviv, on September 17, 2020. (Flash90)
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein speaks during a press conference at Airport City, outside Tel Aviv, on September 17, 2020. (Flash90)

A pilot program will see the mandatory 14-day coronavirus quarantine shortened to 12 days, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced on Sunday.

Edelstein made the decision following consultations with Health Ministry professionals, the ministry said in a statement. The outline for the full pilot program regarding required quarantine will be drafted in the coming days and it will remain in effect until the end of 2020.

“Our goal is to enable maximum freedom with minimal danger to public health,” Edelstein said.

The announcement was lauded by Derech Eretz MK Zvi Hauser, who chairs the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and and has for months been pushing for a shortened quarantine period.

“Better late than never! I congratulate the Health Ministry for making the correct and desired decision to shorten the isolation period by two days. Hopefully, with the success of this pilot, the required quarantine will be shortened to 10 days,” Hauser said.

It was not the first time that the Health Ministryhas  updated its quarantine requirements. Under rules introduced in July, patients who were diagnosed with the virus were considered cured after spending 10 days — instead of 14 — in quarantine from the moment they first showed symptoms, plus an additional three days, during which they must show no symptoms — typically a high fever and coughing or breathing difficulties.

Students at Orot Etzion School, in the Jewish settlement of Efrat, in the West Bank, on November 1, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Patients who do not know exactly when they began experiencing symptoms have since been required to spend 10 days in quarantine from the moment they were informed of a positive test result for the virus, and then leave isolation after three more days without symptoms.

Those diagnosed with the virus but are asymptomatic can leave quarantine after 10 days, the ministry said in July.

In all cases, no further test for the virus is necessary, although the ministry noted then that a doctor’s authorization was still required to indicate that the patients do not have virus symptoms.

Earlier Sunday, the cabinet endorsed new regulations increasing the fines for violations of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, but, under pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties, deferred the matter for discussion the following day by the so-called coronavirus cabinet before it would be advanced to the Knesset for final approval.

After over a month of national lockdown that succeeded in curbing high infection rates, but also paralyzed much of the economy and public life, the government has struggled to agree on how to ease the restrictions, with pressure from some ministers to quickly lift the closure facing opposition by other cabinet members — among them the prime minister — who want to move more cautiously.

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