Health Worker Shortage Prompts Relaxation of Quarantine Rules

israel coronavirus
Magen David Adom workers bringing a coronavirus patient to Shaare Zedek hospital in Yerushalayim, Monday. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

While many Israelis have been laid off from work because of the crisis, health jobs are going unfilled, and officials are taking as many steps as possible to increase staffing. The government is set to draft hundreds of students who have completed nursing assistant courses but have not yet been certified.

The students will be issued temporary work permits to enable them to assist medical staff, who have been inundated with coronavirus cases. MK Ofer Shelach, head of the Knesset committee on the coronavirus crisis, said that the move was needed to ensure that all patients who needed care got it.

In another move, the Health Ministry is set to reduce the number of days health workers are required to remain in isolation after being exposed to coronavirus patients, Yisrael Hayom reported. Currently, health workers, like everyone else, are required to quarantine themselves for two weeks after exposure, but under the new rules, that period will end after 12 days. If a health worker’s vitals check out and they are found to be healthy at that point, they will be able to go back to work.

In addition, the Ministry is planning to eliminate quarantine for what it called “key workers who have no replacement.” These include heads of departments, hospital directors, and other individuals whose absence “would threaten the ability of the institution to provide care.” These workers will be constantly tested, and will be able to remain at work if the tests check out.

As of Tuesday morning, there were 3,618 health workers in quarantine, among them 793 doctors and 1,241 nurses. In a statement, the Ministry said that the new rules were needed “because of the difficulty in managing the health system during this period of crisis.”