Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Ten ways Israel Is fighting the coronavirus-and winning


Natalie Sopinsky in mask.

Israeli medics have been on the front lines of the corona crisis playing an integral part of the national strategy to effectively fight the spread of infection. But the coordinated effort came from a number of places. Below, we've listed 10 of the top ways Israel managed in just six weeks to "flatten the curve" and get us on our way back to normal: 

Quarantine requirements were taken seriously

As early as February people coming from Italy were directed into 14-day isolation. Soon afterwards, all incoming flights had the same directive, and people adhered to these rules.

Government tracking

Early on, the Ministry of Health set up an online form for all isolated people, which included travelers and anyone who had been abroad. This led to early statistics. Several apps were developed for tracking infected people. Many individuals were contacted and directed into isolation. 

Emergency Medics kept the hospitals clear

The emergency rescue systems, Magen David Adom and Rescuers Without Borders, working in full coordination, responded to a high amount of calls with speed and professionalism. No individual went to the hospital independently. All symptomatic people called 101 and a medic arrived to the house, surveyed symptoms, administered the Covid-19 test, and did follow-up treatment. This strategy allowed the hospitals to work effectively, with no overcrowding and no equipment shortage. 

Testing Centers were built, which led to early detection

The Ministry of Health built mobile testing centers so people could pull up in their cars, get swabbed, and get results quickly. All this was done in the early days of the virus and built in a matter of days. Four testing centers were built in the country. The goal was to test 10,000 people a day. Early detection sent thousands of citizens into quarantine, limiting the spread of the virus.

The IDF and other volunteers delivered food 

Our young soldiers took part in many "unconventional" tasks from building hospitals in underground parking lots, to delivering food to home-bound families in Haredi neighborhoods. Other organizations and private businesses volunteered as well, delivering games, gifts of encouragement to hospital staff, and more. We had our own "Bravo" campaign where we delivered cosmetics to the nurses and food gift cards to the medical staff to keep up morale. Neighborhoods with high infection rates were locked down and soldiers delivered food and medicine, while paying special attention to the elderly who were often living alone. 

Our airlines brought home stranded Israelis from abroad 

As Corona hit various countries, flights were cancelled worldwide. Our Israeli airlines El-Al and Israir brought Israelis home from Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, Italy, Spain and other places at no charge. These were "rescue missions." Upon arrival the travelers went into 14-day quarantine. This was a tremendous effort. The round trip flight to Peru was a record-breaking 44 hours long. This act alone makes Israel a light unto the nations.

Hotels for quarantine 

Hotels were turned into "quarantine centers" by the Homefront Command, the Ministry of Health, and the hotels themselves. These hotels offered infected persons safety and comfort to complete their mandatory quarantine. These were for healthy people-not patients. Guests at these hotels were 1) those infected with Covid-19 and could not be separated from their families safely at home, or 2) those who had been abroad. The hotel stay was free of charge, and included meals. They are still in operation around the country. 

Ventilators were manufactured

The innovators behind the Iron Dome converted their factory to produce ventilators; Thus, Israel did not suffer a shortage of this life-saving equipment. 

Keeping the rules

Israelis had strict rules to follow. No schools, no malls, no crowds allowed; No praying in a group. People had to be 2 meters apart and could not go beyond 100 meters from home except for essential reasons: medical or food. No guests for Passover seder. This was difficult for many, especially the older generation, our grandparents. What did we do under these orders? We made the best of it. Families sang from the sidewalks and balconies. Communities came together, even though physically apart. 

Our Leaders 

Our prime minister led us through this corona crisis with strength and heart. Almost every night he spoke directly to us. People eagerly anticipated Bibi's talks, where he explained the science, the statistics, what everything meant. He encouraged us to be strong, to care for our elders, calling them "grandma and grandpa" and making it personal. He did not use fear, he used love. This worked.

Now, we are well on our way out of this crisis. Our Special Education classes have resumed in small groups, school grades 1-3 are now in their 2nd week of resumed classes, 11th and 12th graders have returned.  Malls, stores and some offices are open... more and more restrictions will be lifted following a detailed 4-phase plan. Slowly but surely Israel is moving out of this intense Corona period.

Thank you for supporting us during this difficult time.

Since 2001, Rescuers Without Borders (aka Hatzalah Y"osh) has been the primary supporter of volunteer medics, paramedics and ambulance drivers throughout Judea and Samaria, working in full coordination with Magen David Adom in supplying defibrillators, medical equipment, ambulances and training. Today the organization has over 1,000 volunteers also in the areas around Jerusalem and the Old City. Rescuers Without Borders and is funded completely by private donations and is a registered 501 c 3 charitable organization.

To learn more, visit us at  www.hatzalah.org.il

Natalie Sopinsky is the director of development for Rescuers Without Borders.


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