In a rushed effort to send Israelis arriving from abroad to quarantine facilities amid the threat of a new British COVID-19 strain, the authorities are accused of sending them to hotels which are themselves unhealthy, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.
Arrivals from Britain have complained that the Defense Ministry’s Homefront Command, which has charge of the facilities, were totally unprepared and are actually endangering public health.
They told of being loaded on to crowded buses where passengers didn’t wear masks, and taken to a Yerushalayim with none of the necessary sanitary supplies.
“The lack of any wipes, alcohol gel, gloves, and [new] masks anywhere in the hotel is unsafe and absurd,” said Eliot Cohen, who was sent to the Dan Panorama with his three children. He found the conditions so upsetting that he appealed to social workers who persuaded the Health Ministry to release him on Monday.
“It feels like the policy is, ‘come for quarantine, leave with coronavirus’ — which is absurd.”
“While we understand it’s important to isolate us, we’re treated no better than prisoners in terms of access to food and basic necessities, which is outrageous and a source of shame to the State of Israel,” said Ellen Steel.
Cohen described the hotel as a place of “shouting and anger,” where on Monday, about 30 people violated quarantine rules to leave their rooms for a protest in the lobby, some of them outside the building, as well.
Currently, hundreds of Israelis returning from the United Kingdom, Denmark and South Africa are being put up in quarantine hotels. On Wednesday night, the order will apply to Israelis coming back from any country, for a period of 10 days, after which we’ll see. Foreign nationals will not be allowed entry.
Home Front Command spokeswoman Tamar Barsheshet admitted that there was “chaos” at first because the military had only two-hours’ notice to get things ready, according to the Times. But the situation will improve rapidly, she promised.
Meanwhile, the powers-that-be came in for criticism from the media too. In Yisrael Hayom, Menahem Gsheid wrote: “The decision makers are not giving any basic logical reason for why they should have the public’s trust. Every decision is different than the last, to say nothing of the lack of ability to make decisions. A Turkish bazaar is run more professionally.”
Dr. Pnina Tzubotro from Kaplan medical center told Army Radio that the London mutation is not anything to get panicky about: “It seems the rise in morbidity is linked to the holiday season and the multitude of family gatherings. There’s no proof that the severity is different. We need to research it, but there are mutations all the time.”