Testing for coronavirus
Testing for coronavirusReuters

As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continues to climb, with increases of around three thousand carriers per day in the last week in Israel, more and more towns and cities are turning “orange” or “red,” and the government’s coronavirus cabinet plans to meet again this coming Thursday in order to decide on further lockdowns,possibly extending over the upcoming High Holidays.

In the northern town of Karmiel, three hundred yeshiva students learning at the “Rinah shel Torah” yeshiva have just been diagnosed with coronavirus. The mayor of Karmiel has decided to “lock down” the yeshiva, even posting security guards outside to make sure that no one comes in and no one goes out. Yinon Magal and Ben Caspit of Radio 103 FM spoke with “Moshe,” a student learning at the institution.

“Fifty students contracted coronavirus in the first wave of the virus,” Moshe relates. “Another fifty were tested last week and received negative results. But then seven students did catch the virus, and by the next day, tests showed that two hundred of us had caught it, presumably from them. And the day after that, the number was up to 300!”

Moshe clarifies that the testing was done as a precautionary measure, “as hardly anyone has any symptoms. Just a very few students had a fever, and that was the worst of it. But around 90% of students felt fine, normal. Even those who had a fever just stayed in bed – there was no need to take them anywhere.”

When asked about the safety of the yeshiva’s teaching staff, some of whom are older and might be at high risk, Moshe points out that the yeshiva’s dean just completed quarantine. “The dean was sick before the semester began. He stayed at home until his period of isolation was over, and then he came to yeshiva.”

And what about the risk that the yeshiva’s students might end up being responsible for an outbreak of coronavirus cases among Karmiel’s wider population?

“Even if we weren’t dealing with coronavirus, we wouldn’t leave the yeshiva until after Yom Kippur,” Moshe explains. “We just don’t come into contact with the local residents at all. It’s really just like a corona hotel here, and that’s how we feel. At least by Simchat Torah [three weeks after Rosh Hashanah] we’ll be out of quarantine,” he says with relief. “That’s something, I guess.”