Mask Mandate Reinstated in Parts of Israel Due to COVID Outbreak

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Temperature checks at Tel Aviv school in March.
Temperature checks at Tel Aviv school in March.Credit: Moti Milrod

The Ministry of Health has ordered students to wear masks in schools on Sunday, including in open areas, in Modi'in and Binyamina due to a coronavirus outbreak in the area.

Later on Sunday, the health ministry ordered that all those who attended a show in the Emek HaMaayanot area on Thursday must self-isolate after a positive case was identified among the audience.

Later, however, the ministry retracted its order and said no quarantines are needed.

The school year ended on Sunday for most high schools across the country; elementary schools end on June 30.

The health ministry announced on Saturday that 45 children in Binyamina were diagnosed with the virus, and that they suspect that it is the Indian variant. The outbreak was identified at random, with a student from Kramim School in Rishon Letziyon testing positive to the coronavirus. 

Wider testing of students resulted in additional positive tests, including some with symptoms. The source of the outbreak is under investigation, including a familial connection of one of the students who recently returned from abroad. All samples were sent for genetic sequencing to the National Genome Database.

The Indian variant is of concern to experts because it contains two protein mutations that may make it resistant to the vaccine. It is being examined whether this variant is more contagious than others.

In March, India's health ministry reported a variant of the virus that includes two genetic changes, a commonality between two variants of the virus that was previously known.

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