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Israel reports 1,831 new cases and a strike by medical laboratory scientists.

Image Credit: Reuters

On Saturday night, Israel Health authorities reported 1,831 new cases and 20 deaths. Israel’s daily infection rate remained in the 1800-1900 range, except on Thursday when there was 2,068 new cases. This peak was the highest number of cases recorded since July. Around 23,263 cases were performed, a very high number for a non-weekday.

On Sunday, ministers are expected to discuss the ‘traffic light’ plan. This plan which was proposed by czar Professor Ronni Gamzu. The plan proposes restrictions on regions depending on the morbidity rates. If the spread of infection in a particular zone does not slow down by September 10, that zone would be subject to increased restrictions, which might shutter synagogues. For this reason, it was refused three times by the ultra-conservative Orthodox ministers. The restrictions if passed, would take effect starting from Rosh Hashanah until October 11, after the Sukkot holiday. Israel reported a total of 113,623 cases and 158 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic.

To make matters worse, a strike is in the limelight after 2,000 public laboratory scientists at 400 public laboratories went on strike over a pay dispute. Esther Admon, the head of the Union of Biochemists and Laboratory Scientists said that the system was starting to buckle under the high number of tests on a daily basis. Recruitment of new staff to complement the increased workload is becoming difficult, as new laboratory scientists are choosing to work in the private sector where the pay is much higher, for the same work.

Image Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90

‘Entire year groups from medical schools are going to work for NIS 100 per hour (approximately $29) in private laboratories and not in public ones where they receive NIS 31 per hours (approximately $9),’ Esther Admon told the Kan public broadcaster.

Coronavirus testing will continue but only positive cases will be reported. Those individuals who test negative will be not be updated. Esther Kan threatened that if no action is taken by the government to address the huge pay gap between the public and private sector by late Sunday, positive cases will also not be reported.

‘If they do not bring an attractive offer by the end of the day there will be no positive test results for coronavirus.’ Health minister director General Chezy Levy told Army radio, ‘I respect the lab workers, but you don’t go on strike in the middle of a war. I hope it ends today.’

Laboratory services will only provide emergency diagnostic services to public hospitals. It has been reported that only departments such as the emergency room, intensive care and the labor ward will not be affected by the strike. Tests for patients awaiting to leave the hospital and those waiting non-essential surgery will not be processed. Tens of thousands of tests are expected not to be worked on Sunday alone.

Esther Kan also said, ‘We have no choice. It’s for the health of the public and the health and safety of our workers. For five years we have known there was a crisis..and for five years nobody did anything. It seems that this is an attempt to exhaust us.’

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