Escalating coronavirus test results worry Health official. Teens are highest risk group

The rise of positive covid-19 tests from half a percent to 1.5pc is a storm signal, senior Health Ministry official Prof. Itamar Grosso told a special parliamentary coronavirus panel on Tuesday, June 2. He said the ministry had plans ready for a major escalation.

The number of schoolchildren and teaching staff sent into 14-day quarantine had risen by Tuesday to 9,935. Altogether 31 schools and kindergartens had closed in the past week and the number infected individuals climbed to 217. The Hebrew Gymnasia of Jerusalem, which sent all 1,200 students and 200 teachers into quarantine, and set off the outbreak in schools last week, was joined on Tuesday by the nearly 2,000 pupils of the Beersheba high school, where a girl tested positive for  coronavirus, as well as large schools in Sderot opposite the Gaza Strip, Maale Adummim east of Jerusalem and another high school in Tel Aviv. Ongoing tests have meanwhile confirmed 159 teachers and pupils as carrying the infection at the Jerusalem Gynmnasia. Parents have withdrawn their siblings from other Jerusalem schools.

Indeed, parents are beginning to keep their children at home to avoid infection. Some schools have decided independently to split classes into smaller groups, while others have gone back partially to remote instruction for home-bound pupils. The new education minister Yoav Galant has his hands full keeping track.

Israel’s all-round figures continue to edge higher, with 100 new cases in the last 24 hours up to 17,253 and four more coronavirus deaths up to 289 after a three-day pause. Another 47 active cases boosted the figure to 2,035, although at the same time, severe cases declined by two to 31.

Prof. Grotto, answering questions from the panel, traced the galloping infection in schools to contact with adults in the family who belong to high-risk groups. Whereas initial Healthy Ministry guidelines urged children to stay away from grandparent to avoid infecting them, Pro. Grotto now proffers the opposite advice, to keep children away from elderly people for their own safety. He defined teens of 10-20 as the most vulnerable age groups, especially 15-year old kids, because they are in regular contact with adults, mainly their teachers. But he stressed that even when teens contract the virus, it is usually less harmful than in elderly adults and their symptoms tend to be mild. Grotto did not therefore advise keeping children at home from school as a general rule.

In the UK, some primary schools have reopened for some pupils. Nursery and pre-school children plus pupils in Year 1 and Year 6 will go back first.

Primary schools in Denmark have been teaching small groups since April, and some older students have also returned

In Germany, schools have partially reopened for young children and those taking exams

Some French schools have reopened with a limit of 15 pupils per class, and compulsory masks for older children

Schools in Italy, Spain and Ireland are expected to stay shut until after the summer.

In the US while President Trump urged reopening the schools ASAP, Americans are divided on this.

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