Jerusalem Mayor: Closure will turn neighborhoods into coronavirus incubators

Jerusalem Mayor warns Health Ministry measures to combat coronavirus in haredi neighborhoods may only worsen situation.

Mordechai Sones ,

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon
Flash 90

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon sent a letter to Health Ministry Deputy Director Prof. Itamar Grotto, questioning his intention to declare a number of neighborhoods in the city as "red neighborhoods" and impose closure on them.

"My unequivocal stance is against the closure," wrote Leon. "The proposed closure may make the relevant neighborhoods into coronavirus incubators.

"It's important to stress: Unlike other cities, the neighborhoods in Jerusalem are neighborhoods where tens of thousands of people and families blessed with many children live in crowded apartments, with hundreds of people living in each building. Their hermetic closure will lead to mass infection within the community and make matters worse," he explained.

In his letter, Leon suggested "opening dedicated commands to be operated by the Municipality and IDF Home Front Command in those neighborhoods and to immediately evacuate every verified patient from home within 24 hours to prevent further infection."

Later in the letter, Leon referred to the closure of educational institutions and warned that regarding yeshivot gedolot (ages 16-25), "sending tens of thousands of young people home can dramatically increase the disease. At present, there is no way to check the condition of coronavirus patients within the yeshivot and we may send many patients to their homes, where many more families will catch it and cause a huge outbreak in the haredi sector.

"Yeshivot ketanot (9th grade): Yeshivot with dorms should continue in the format of the yeshivot gedolot. Yeshivot without boarding should continue with the 'capsule' arrangement, and if someone is found infected, the capsule will be closed immediately and the boys will be sent to their homes for isolation.

"Talmud Torahs (grades 1-8): Ensure the capsule layout is strictly followed by monitoring symptoms and compliance with Health Ministry instructions and closing any capsule where someone in which a carrier is found."

Leon concluded: "I believe addressing the issue must be systemic, including taking into account the best options for preventing infection and spreading coronavirus. A closure without such solutions will achieve the opposite goal. I urge all government agencies to accelerate prevention activities, including hotels to isolate carriers."



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