Frequently Asked Questions - Corona
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why should I wear mask that covers the nose and mouth?
The COVID-19 novel coronavirus is spread from person to person by the spray of droplets while they are speaking, coughing, or sneezing. Facemasks covering the nose and mouth prevent such spray and prevent other people's droplets from reaching your mouth or your nose, thereby greatly decreasing the risk of either infecting others or becoming infected.
The masks protect both the one wearing it and those around them. When a carrier of the virus encounters another person, they are both better protected from infection when both are wearing masks.
It is evident that the virus is spread at a slower pace in places where a universal mask requirement is in order (e.g. Taiwan, China, Japan, Hong Kong, the Czech Republic) compared to places where there is no widespread use of masks (although a clear causal association is yet to be established).
Wearing facemasks covering the nose and mouth in public at all times will significantly decrease the risk for inter-personal transmission of the virus.
- What types of masks are suitable for use in public?
- A commercial task-specific mask (medical or surgical) – The level of defense depends upon the type of mask
- A reusable cloth mask may provide very good protection, depending on the type of cloth, its thickness, and the number of plies.
- A make-shift mask made of any available cloth and string that covers the mouth and the nose (this type of mask is less ideal)
- A N95-type mask (or similar) is suitable for use but not required.
- A mask with a valve is forbidden for use since the valve constitutes a one-way opening, and does not stop the spraying of droplets
- How can I make a cloth mask at home?
- Use fabrics that are non-stretchable cotton fabrics with high fiber density such as high quality, unused sheets made from percale, satin, etc. Do not use any kind of towel-like or cloth-like fabrics.
- Make the mask using two or three plies of fabric.
- The mask should cover the mouth and nose well (possible dimensions – a rectangular mask 14x18 cm). Adjust according to head size and facial hair.
- The mask is to be stitched on all sides.
- Make a sleeve on the upper part into which to insert a metal wire (such as a paper clip) for better tightening around the nose.
- Make laces for the mask at every angle for tying and tightening behind the head. You may use rubber bands instead of laces for tightening the mask around the ears or at the back of the neck.
- How to use the various mask types?
- Task-specific mask (medical, surgical or N95):
- Can be reused
- Remove the mask by untying the laces, without touching the front of the mask.
- Keep the used mask in a clean and well-ventilated place, away from accidental touch, and preferably on top of a clean sheet of absorbent paper towel.
- Dispose of a visibly dirty, worn out, torn, or wet masks.
- Cloth mask:
- Replace the mask when it is wet, dirty, or ideally – daily.
- Remove the mask by untying the laces, without touching the front of the mask.
- Keep the used mask in a clean nylon bag.
- Wash the mask at a temperature of over 70 degrees for 30 minutes or more. You may hang it to dry in the open air or use a dryer.
- Covering the mouth and nose with an available cloth:
- It is preferable to use cotton cloth as dense as possible and avoid woolen scarves
- Wash the cloth after daily use at a temperature of over 70 degrees for 30 minutes or more. You may hang it to dry in the open air or use a dryer
- Task-specific mask (medical, surgical or N95):
- What should I know when using a mask?
- Use of mask does not negate the need to maintain a 2-meter distance between people in public.
- A worn out, wet, crumpled, or ill-fitted mask provides poor protection and should be replaced.
- If the use of mask may cause breathing difficulties, especially among people with heart or lung conditions, it should not be used. Consult your primary care physician.
- Contact with the mask can be contaminating: The mask can become contaminated by being touched with unclean hands and contact with the front of the mask can contaminate the hands. Be sure to wash hands frequently with water and soap or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- What is the coronavirus?
The coronavirus belongs to a large family of viruses identified as the cause of certain animal diseases and it can cause disease in humans, too.
The name 'coronavirus' refers to their resemblance to a crown ('corona' in Latin) when viewed in an electron microscope. The severity of human illness depends on the particular virus strand of this family and ranges between mild ailment, such as a cold, up to a serious disease that can negatively affect the lungs and lead to multiple organ failure, such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
- What is the 2019 novel coronavirus?
The novel coronavirus had not been previously identified as a cause of disease in humans.
In December 2019, the coronavirus was identified as the pathogen causing a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei province, central mainland China, and later on, it was found to spread to all provinces of mainland China as well as internationally.
In terms of its genetic makeup, the SARS virus, which was the cause of severe morbidity in 2003/4, is the most similar to the novel coronavirus in China among all other coronaviruses that cause human morbidity.
On February 11 2020, the World Health Organization decided on an official name for the virus - SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes - COVID-19.
On March 11 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak was a pandemic.
- How is the novel coronavirus transmitted to humans?
The vast majority of the first patients in this event either worked in the livestock and seafood market in Wuhan or visited it. Hence the hypothesis, that the virus spread from animals to human beings, but thus far, it was impossible to identify with certainty which animal.
Currently, the transmission of the virus is from person to person. The virus can exit the body from a sick person's respiratory tracts, mainly when sneezing or coughing. The dispersed droplets can be inhaled by other people or land on surfaces. People who shortly after that inhale these droplets or touch these surfaces and subsequently touch their mouths, noses, or eyes may become infected. Any person-to-person physical contact, such as kissing, hugging, having sex and hand shaking, without protection, is potentially infectious. It has yet to be determined how infectious this disease is, but at this stage, it seems that its level of infection is at least similar to that of the influenza virus. It is possible to become infected from patients with very mild symptoms.
- What are the symptoms of the infection? And how severe is it?
A significant part of all people infected with the novel coronavirus do not develop symptoms at all. People infected with COVID-19 may have symptoms similar to those of influenza. As a matter of fact, in most cases it is impossible to tell whether a person is infected with the novel coronavirus or has a respiratory disease without laboratory testing.
The most common symptoms of the disease are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell have also been reported.
One in six confirmed patients develop a serious illness characterized by difficulty breathing. In rare cases, this illness may lead to acute pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), renal failure, and can be fatal.
The mortality rate of COVID-19 is estimated at 2% of all patients, but information from various countries is sometimes inconsistent. Note that since many carriers are asymptomatic (and are therefore untested), it is assumed that the mortality rate of those who were infected with the coronavirus is smaller.
- Who is at higher risk for becoming more acutely ill?
According to what we know so far, the following groups of people are at higher risk for becoming more acutely ill and experience complications:
- Adults over age 65
- Residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities
- People with an acute heart condition
- People with acute chronic lung condition
- Dialysis patients
- Patients with cirrhosis of the liver
- People with immunosuppression for any number of causes
- People suffering from morbid obesity
- What about those who recovered? Will they suffer long-term consequences? Can they be infected with the virus again?
We still don't have clear information on complications or long-term implications among those who have recovered.
Concerning reinfection, our working assumption right now is that any person who recovered from the virus is currently immune, and it is unlikely that they will become reinfected with the virus. However, we still don't know if this virus will behave like the influenza virus that is constantly mutating and will remain with us for the distant future.
- What effects does the virus have on pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding?
The information that we have is still partial and is based on a handful of descriptions and on what we know about diseases of similar viruses.
Currently, there is no information on either short or long-term harm to fetuses or newborns as a result of the mother's infection with the viruses during the pregnancy. Miscarriages were described in some other viruses of the coronavirus family during the mother's pregnancy.
The vast majority of babies born to mothers who were infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus during pregnancy did not carry the virus, and the virus was not isolated in the amniotic fluid.
So far, the COVID-19 novel coronavirus has not been found isolated in breastmilk, and it is apparent that it is not transmitted through breastfeeding. However, it should be noted that breastfeeding is a close contact that may spread the virus by exposure to respiratory excretions or by contact (recommendations for a breastfeeding mother who is being home quarantined are detailed below).
- How does one diagnose the disease caused by the coronavirus?
The diagnosis of this disease is by a laboratory test performed on a sample of excretions from the respiratory tracts. This test is designed to directly detect traces of the virus's genetic material in the respiratory excretion sample. In this test, a swab (a short rod with a cotton swab tip) is inserted into the subject's throat and nose in order to collect respiratory excretion samples.
- Who should get tested for coronavirus? When am I sampled? Where am I sampled?
- Coronavirus test is required from anyone in isolation (either due to exposure to a confirmed patient or arrival from abroad), if and when they develop fever or symptoms characteristic of coronavirus.
- It is recommended that a confirmed patient's housemates will be tested, even if they are asymptomatic.
- Coronavirus tests will be administered at the treating physician's discretion for people who develop symptoms, which may be characteristic of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, even if they did not come in close contact with a confirmed patient. It is recommended to consult the treating physician or the insuring HMO over the phone as for the necessity of the test.
- Is it possible to receive the diagnostic test for novel coronavirus in a private medicine setting?
At present, since these tests are a limited resource that is required to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, they must be publicly accessible in an equal and professional manner. Therefore, it is currently impossible to receive the test in a private setting.
- How do I get a referral to be tested? And how do I actually get tested?
In order to be referred to a diagnostic test, you need to call the clinic of your insuring HMO or the HMO's phone hotline for consultation and for instructions on what you need to do next,
* Those who do not have any medical insurance should call The Ministry of Health Hotline at *5400.
Tests are usually administered in task-specific sites by the HMOs or Magen David Adom, and in certain cases in the subject's home.
Anyone tested for coronavirus due to being a close contact of a patient or due to the appearance of symptoms is required to remain isolated at least until they receive their test results (or until the reason for their home isolation in accordance with the guidance has passed – whichever date is the latest).
- What is the meaning of negative test results?
Negative test results indicate that traces of the virus were not detected in the subject's respiratory tracts as of the date that the sample was collected. The meaning of negative test results depends upon the test's purpose, and the date that the sample was collected:
- Negative test results may be received in the early stage of the disease, before the appearance of symptoms.
- Negative test results, while the subject suffers from symptoms suspect as symptoms characteristic of coronavirus may indicate with a high probability that the symptoms are not the result of infection with the novel coronavirus.
- Negative test results in a subject who previously tested positive to coronavirus may indicate that the body overcame the virus, and this is a sign of recovery.
- Why not get tested in any case, just to be safe?
Since the number of tests is limited, it is not recommended that you get tested in the absence of symptoms, except in the cases detailed above.
Rarely a healthy individual may test positive for coronavirus (false positive).
As stated above, negative test results are only accurate for the date that the sample was collected, and therefore is not a guarantee that the disease couldn't have developed shortly after the test (false negative).
- How does the test affect the isolation?
- Anyone who tested positive must remain isolated until they recover, regardless of the circumstances of the collection of their sample and whether or not they were isolated prior to the collection of their sample.
- Anyone who tested while isolated must complete their required isolation period, even if their test results return negative.
- Anyone not required to self-isolation but who tested due to the appearance of symptoms must remain isolated until receiving negative test results or until at least 48 hours have passed since the symptoms have disappeared (whichever date is the latest).
- Anyone who arrived from abroad and required to prove that they were sick and recovered will remain isolated until they test negative to a test administered in Israel.
- What is a serological test, and what do we know about serological coronavirus tests?
A serological test is a blood test that tests for the presence of specific antibodies that the patient's body produces against different pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that remain in the patient's body even after recovery.
Positive results to a serological test usually indicate that this individual was indeed sick with a disease, and sometimes they also indicate recovery and long-term immunity.
Serological tests also have a limited level of accuracy, so we can't always entirely rely on their results. Additionally, positive test results can not indicate whether or not the disease was active in the patient's body at the time that the sample was collected or if the patient's body is recovering.
Currently, there are various serological tests for novel coronavirus, the level of accuracy of most of them remains unknown. Therefore, it has yet to be determined whether or not a positive serological test should be taken as an indicator of recovery.
- Is there any vaccination against the coronavirus?
There is no vaccination against the virus. Several groups around the world are trying to develop a vaccination, but an effective vaccination is not to be expected any time soon.
- Is there any treatment for the disease caused by the coronavirus?
Currently, there is no specific treatment for novel coronavirus disease. Patients in critical condition are being treated in experimental treatments that have yet to be conclusively proven.
Treatment is mostly palliative and administered based on the patient's clinical condition.
Antibiotics cannot help patients suffering from novel coronavirus disease.
- What can be done in order to avoid being infected by novel coronavirus?
In addition to wearing a mask, it is advised to always maintain the same hygiene rules, which may prevent infection with other respiratory tract viruses (such as influenza virus):
- Wash hands with water and soap or with alcohol based sanitizer on a frequent basis.
- Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory disease, and people who are sick, coughing or sneezing.
- Keep a distance of 2 meters from any other person, avoid handshakes and any other physical contact.
- Avoid direct contact with objects or surfaces in public areas that are likely to be constantly touched by many people.
- Avoid touching the mouth, nose and eyes.
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and throw it in the garbage. if you sneezed or coughed into your hand - washing your hands immediately after that.
- Avoid using shared dinnerware at the same meal.
- Avoid public areas when feeling sick.
- When and whether is advisable to wear a protective mask?
The effectiveness of the mask in preventing infection with the novel coronavirus is limited. Upon continuous use, the mask becomes worn out and wet.
There is no recommendation to wear a mask on a routine basis in order to protect against respiratory diseases, including the one caused by the novel coronavirus. Individuals should wear one only if a specific recommendation is given by a medical personnel member.
People, who are supposed to wear the mask, are those who develop symptoms and are suspected or diagnosed as coronavirus patients (this, in order to prevent spreading the disease to others), as well as those, who come in contact or treat susceptible or confirmed patients (for their own protection).
- Is it feasible to exercise caution with regard to food?
According to the currently available information, no coronavirus transmission has been reported by food packages or food itself.
However, it is important to always follow hygiene rules, when dealing with food or preparing a meal: frequent washing of hands and surfaces, separating between raw meat and other foods, full cooking and immediate cooling down of the food.
- Is there a risk in receiving shipments and products shipped from overseas and especially from China?
According to the currently available information, coronaviruses do not survive on objects for a long time, and no transmission of the disease has been reported in this manner.
- What are the restrictions and guidelines to the public in Israel?
Restrictions and guidelines to the public in Israel are constantly updated on Ministry of Health’s website under COVID-19 guidance.
- What are the guidelines in places that receive the public (including clinics)?
Contact must be made by telephone or other online measures rather than arriving in person in order to determine if physical arrival is indeed necessary.
Physical arrival may take place only in vital cases. The guidelines must be maintained, while keeping a distance of at least 2 meters between people.
Follow the guidelines, for: What can be done in order to avoid being infected by the novel coronavirus?
Establishments are requested to make hand sanitizer available to the public and employees alike. In addition, surfaces must be cleaned often. The recommendation is to clean and sanitize surface with 70% alcohol or chlorine solution based sanitizers (home bleach).
- What about the elderly population and those who come in contact with them?
For the elderly population, and especially those with chronic illnesses or a weak immune system, it is advisable to reduce social contact whenever possible while maintaining an active routine.
For those aged 60 and over, and for people with chronic diseases or suppressed immune system, it is advisable avoid groups in one space, avoid contact with people returning from any destination abroad, and avoid contact with people with symptoms, and those who are suspected of being infected.
People with fever or other respiratory symptoms must avoid contact with the elderly. Visits to welfare, nursing or healthcare establishments (where those residents live) are to be avoided, except a single visitor, preferably a direct family member.
Any person with fever or respiratory symptoms is not permitted to provide care for patients or visit establishments for the elderly.
Institutions have been instructed to prevent multiple visitors from entering for the benefit of resident health.
- I have an appointment for medical examination or treatment, what should I do?
Each individual case should be reviewed. Contact the clinic or the hospital to find out if you need to arrive or what options you have to arrive.
- Can a pet put at risk a person with being infected by a coronavirus and vice versa?
There are several indications that pets (especially cats) can become infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. However, there are no indications that a pet can infect a human.
It is recommended that you take precautions and avoid caring for a pet if you are suffering from symptoms suspected as COVID-19. If you must come in contact with pets in this situation, be sure to wear facemasks covering the nose and mouth and to wash your hands. People who tested positive for COVID-19 and own a pet (especially a cat) suspected of having been infected with the virus should keep the pet quarantined with them during their quarantine period.
- Are there any restrictions on international air travel to and from Israel?
Everything you need to know about Israel international air travel is found on the Air Travel Website.
- How to cope with the new routine with a healthy approach?
During these times of personal and national coping with the Novel Coronavirus, it is a matter of great importance to maintain physical and mental health. It is important to maintain a healthy routine, healthy nutrition, physical exercise and stress relief activities. It is recommended to look at this situation as opportunity to take care of ourselves, relax and rest, eat healthy, exercise and enrich ourselves with new knowledge.
- Who can visit tenants in a nursing home, assisted living residences or institutions for people with disabilities?
Only one person can attend each time. The visitor has to be a family member of the residents, a guardian, a primary caregiver or any significant other.
No visits are allowed if the potential visitor or the visitor's family member of the same household is in isolation or is a COVID-19 confirmed patient.
Visits must be scheduled and the visitor's identity must be confirmed with the tenants, subject to their needs and the counsel of the relevant professional body.
- Is it allowed to bring food and personal belongings to residents?
The visitor may bring food in disposable containers or sealed packages. You should consult the management regarding bringing personal belongings.
- How will the visit take place?
The visitor will have to agree to a body temperature check, must not have respiratory symptoms and will be required to sign a health statement.
The visit will take place in a designated visit area in the nursing home or health care facility and will be accompanied by a healthcare staff member who will supervise compliance with the guidelines.
During the visit at least 2 meters must be kept between the resident and the visitor and both the resident and the visitor must wear a nose mask for the entire duration of the meeting (except extraordinary cases). The visitor is responsible for his or her protection.
- What is close contact? In what situations does contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 require home isolation?
Being within 2 meters, for at least 15 minutes with the confirmed patient. If you don't know this person, and the suspicion of contact is based on information about staying in a shared space only, at least 15 minutes of staying in the same space require entry into home isolation.
Working closely with or staying in the same classroom.
Shared travel by any means of transport.
Physical contact such as a kiss, a hug or a handshake, regardless of time spent in the patient environment.
It is important to realize that a person diagnosed with COVID-19 may have been healthy and without symptoms at the time of the encounter, but it was still possible that he or she was already contagious at the time.
- I found out I had close contact with an individual or a group that was tested positive for the novel coronavirus, what should I do?
The Ministry of Health is investigating each and every case of close contact. If a person had close contact, this person must be placed under home isolation in line with given guidance and the law requires the person to send an online home isolation report to the Ministry of Health or to call the Ministry of Health Hotline *5400. If fever or respiratory symptoms develop, call an HMO clinic or your HMO Hotline (if you are not medically insured, contact the Ministry of Health Hotline at *5400). If you are not sure whether there was close contact, call your HMO Hotline. If fever or respiratory symptoms develop, call your HMO Hotline, and do not go to an HMO clinic or the emergency ward.
Any person who does not satisfy the definition of close contact with a confirmed patient or group is not required to be placed under home isolation, but must monitor their health (fever 38C (100.4F) or higher, cough or other respiratory symptoms). If such symptoms develop, call an HMO clinic or your HMO Hotline (if you are not medically insured, contact the Ministry of Health Hotline at *5400). If it is an emergency, call MDA Emergency Services at 101 or go to a hospital emergency ward.
- I had close contact with a healthy person who had had contact with a novel coronavirus patient, and is now under home isolation. Can I be infected?
The risk of becoming infected with the novel coronavirus as a result of contact with a healthy person who had contact with a confirmed patient is low. This eventuality is not defined as exposure to a confirmed patient and so you may resume normal daily activities, and you do not need to be placed under home isolation.
- I have a fever or a new cough but I do not know whether I have been in contact with a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not returned from abroad, what should I do?
If fever develops above 38 degrees C and also new respiratory symptoms, stay at home for 48 hours after the fever and symptoms disappear and reduce contact with household members. Staying at home is not defined as home isolation, but is an important precaution during this period and it is desirable to maintain the isolation rules here as well.
If you need medical care or further counseling, it is advisable to call your HMO clinic or HMO Hotline (if you are not medically insured, contact the Ministry of Health Hotline at *5400). If it is an emergency, call MDA Emergency Services at 101 or go to a hospital emergency ward.
- What is home isolation?
The purpose of the isolation period is to stop the spread of coronavirus disease in Israel and to prevent further infection. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid public space and to protect other household members from possible infection. Isolation was mandated in the order of the Ministry of Health's Director General. The isolation period lasts 14 days starting the day of the isolation directive. According to the law, the isolated person needs to report to the Ministry of Health either online (by filing out the online form for contacts with a confirmed patient or passengers arriving from abroad) or by calling the Ministry of Health Hotline at *5400.
- Who is required to enter isolation?
The following are required to isolate:
- Individuals who had close contact with a confirmed patient, or a person that a doctor determined he or she had contact with confirmed patient in the last 14 days
- Anyone tested for coronavirus due to suspicion of infection.
- Anyone arriving in Israel from abroad.
- Anyone with a fever of 38 degrees Celsius or higher.
- What is the guidance for home isolation?
The isolated person is required to stay home or in a room for the entire duration of the isolation period.
- Are there any restrictions on household members of an isolated person?
Provided the home isolation conditions are maintained, household members can continue their normal activities.
- Who will compensate the isolated person for absence from work?
Work absence during the isolation period shall be considered an absence from work due to illness, on condition that proof is submitted to certify the date of arrival to Israel.
You can print the general statement of illness (Hebrew) from the Ministry of Health Website. Do not ask your physician to issue a statement of illness for this absence.
- How does one submit an appeal on a home isolation notice?
In the case that one has received a home isolation notice and thinks that there has been a mistake and there is no reason for them to enter isolation, one may submit an appeal to the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Health uses highly advanced technological means at the State's disposal to assist in the epidemiological investigations of coronavirus cases. For that purpose, the Ministry forwards the personal information of most confirmed cases to undergo technological investigation by Israel Security Agency, and receives information about people who came in close contact with confirmed cases. Currently, this investigation covers up to 10 days before the patient's diagnosis.
People who were exposed to a confirmed patient can become infected and in turn infect their family members and those closest to them, even if they are still asymptomatic and feel fine. This is why they need to self-isolate. They are directed by the Ministry of Health to do so.
The patient also receives a notification that his or her information was forwarded for investigation.
The contents of calls are not being scrutinized as part of the technological investigation.
In accordance with the Emergency Regulations (Authorization of the Israel Security Agency to Assist the National Effort to Reduce the Spread of the Novel Coronavirus), 5780-2020, information about patients and people who were exposed to patients will only be used for the limited time of the regulations' legal force, for containing and preventing the spread of the virus and in order to protect the public's health and well-being, and in such a manner as to minimize the violation of the right to privacy.
It should be stressed that this information is deleted as soon as it is no longer needed, according to the period stipulated by law.
- I am a COVID-19 confirmed patient and I have received a message (SMS) or a voice message that information about me has been passed on for completion of the testing - how can I know it is authentic?
The message from the Ministry of Health will usually address you by your private name.
You will be able to verify the message by calling to the number given in the message (08-6822334) from the same mobile phone that received the message. The automatic system will recognize, whether the number you have called from is included in the list of numbers, to which messages have been sent by the Ministry of Health.
If you receive a voice message, then your mobile phone does not accept text messages.
- I am a COVID-19 confirmed patient and I have received a text message (SMS) or a voice message that information about me has been passed on for further investigation - why and what does it mean?
Due to increase in hundreds of new patients each day, it is impossible to conduct only an in person epidemiological investigation for each case by a professional. An epidemiological investigation is a process of identifying those people, places and times where exposure to the patient may have occurred prior to the diagnosis, and who may have been infected by them. Those who have been exposed are asked to enter isolation as soon as possible. Quick entry into isolation helps to protect public health, and especially people that are close to you.
In order to carry out epidemiological investigations in large numbers as quickly as possible, we are also aided by sophisticated technological means. Therefore, after diagnosis, details about the patient are passed on for investigation by technological means, and the patient is informed by text messages (SMS) or voice messages.
During the process, places will be identified where the patient visited in the past 10 days only and people that the patient met. Contents of conversations are not accessed. The information is used only by the Ministry of Health - and solely for finding those who were exposed to the patient and to discover the source of the infection. When we find out who was exposed to the patient - we will send them a text message (SMS) or a voice message that will inform them that they must enter isolation immediately.
- I have received a message (SMS) or a voice message that information about be was forwarded for further investigation - but I was not diagnosed as COVID-19 patient. What should I do?
Sometimes the laboratory or the computer system have errors. If you received a message meant for confirmed patients and you are not sick, please contact the Ministry of Health Hotline as soon as possible at *5400.
- I have received a message (SMS) or a voice message that I have to enter isolation - how can I know it is authentic?
The message from the Ministry of Health will usually address you by your private name.
The message will always include exposure date, which is no older than the former 10 days, and usually will include time range of your exposure to the patient as well. It will allow aiding you to recall, where you have been in the time of your exposure to the patient.
You will be able to verify the message by calling to the number listed in it (08-6822334) - from the same device, where the message has been sent. Automatic system will recognize, whether the number you have called from is included in the list of numbers, to which messages have been sent by the Ministry of Health.
- I have received a text message (SMS) or a voice message that I must enter isolation - why and what does it mean?
Due to increase in number of new patients each day, epidemiological investigation is also carried out by sophisticated technological means. If you have received such a text or voice message, it indicates that you have been close enough to a person with a confirmed diagnosis for coronavirus, during the 10 days prior to their diagnosis, and you may have been exposed to the virus so that infection is probable.
As far as we know, you are still free of the disease, but during this period, if you have been infected, the virus may be passed on from you to others, to your relatives and others in the public. Therefore, you must enter home isolation, according to guidelines of the Ministry of Health as soon as possible, in order to expose as few people as possible. Quick entry to isolation and adhering to isolation directions helps to protect public health, and especially the health of those closest to you. The Ministry of Health guidelines for home isolation are located on Ministry’s dedicated coronavirus website.
Moreover, the law requires you immediately fill out and submit an online report of home isolation after contact with a COVID-19 case to be sent to the Ministry of Health, and also state the location of the isolation.
During the technological investigation that is being carried out, contents of conversations will not be accessed. According to applicable law, information that has been gathered will be used only by the Ministry of Health - and solely for warning the public and those that may have been exposed. When no longer needed, the information will be erased.
- I received another message (text message (SMS) or voicemail) that I have to send an isolation report – why, and what does it mean?
If you have not yet reported that you entered isolation and what the location is, you might receive a reminder, and later another reminder.
You must immediately report home isolation if you had close contact with a confirmed patient, and mention where you are staying in home isolation on the appropriate form.
Violation of an isolation duty is a criminal offense, and the penalty is NIS 5000.
Failure to report an isolation is a criminal offense, and the penalty is NIS 3000.
If you do not report, you might be contacted by the Ministry of Health, and your information will be forwarded for enforcement procedures, which might be aided by the police.
In any case, your information will be forwarded within about 24 hours to the register of individuals who must be isolated, which in turn is forwarded to the Police for monitoring and enforcement purposes.
- I have received a text message (SMS) or voice message that I must enter isolation - can I know who infected me?
No, you cannot. The patient has a right for medical confidentiality, therefore it is not possible to disclose his or her identity.
- I received a text message (SMS) or voice message and I think this is a mistake. What should I do?
If you have received a text message or voice mail to your mobile device directing you to self-isolate, and in your opinion there has been a mistake, or if there is any reason why it is not justified to direct you to self-isolation, you may call the Ministry of Health and contest this notification by calling The Ministry of Health Hotline at *5400 (every day from 07:00 to 23:00). In your appeal to the self-isolation directive, you need to specify the date and time of your proximity to a confirmed patient as stated in the text message or the voice mail and explain why you think that it is a mistake or why you should not be required to self-isolate. Each appeal will be examined individually.
If you work in any of the following: The armed forces, hospital, clinic, Magen David Adom Emergency Services Center, a large essential factory, Etc., and at the time of your exposure you were at work – you need to refer to your employer for clarification. You may also send a message to the following e-mail: email@example.com for the medical teams' hotline. In your appeal, you need to specify your full name, identity number, phone number, details of exposure to a confirmed patient, and explanation of the reasons for contesting the self-isolation directives. Only appeals by medical staff and armed forces will be answered in this e-mail.
Attention! While waiting for a response, you must remain fully isolated.
- I received a text message that cancels a previous message about mandatory home isolation. Is it authentic? What should I do?
Sometimes a malfunction happens during one of the processing stages, and so a wrong message might be sent, or a message is sent to the wrong person. When the error is detected, the Ministry of Health sends a message to correct the error. The message can be verified at the phone number listed in it, and you can get more information from the Ministry of Health Hotline at *5400.
- I have appealed a directive that I received, and my appeal was approved. How would I know that I was removed from the register of individuals who must be isolated?
If your appeal was approved and you were removed from the register of individuals who must be isolated – a new message will be sent to you to confirm this. If your removal from isolation was approved over the phone, and you did not receive a message within 24 hours, you need to call Ministry of Health Hotline again at *5400.
- How can I easily detect fake text messages (SMSs) or voice messages?
An authentic message is sent from the Ministry of Health. If it is said or written in the message that it is from the General Security Service – it is a fake.
An authentic message will never demand you to pay an immediate fine.
A written message sent by any other messaging application such as WhatsApp or Messenger is fake.
The Ministry of Health occasionally revises the wording of its messages. You may call Ministry of Health Hotline at *5400 to make sure that the wording of the message that you have received is the current wording.
- I have installed “HAMAGEN” application. Can I still get a message from the Ministry of Health?
Yes. “HAMAGEN” application does not replace sending of messages.
- I saw in the publications that I was adjacent to a coronavirus patient but received no message. Do I have to enter into isolation?
Yes. You must enter isolation. All technology has limitations, and testing methods complement each other. Technological measures are unable to detect all those people, who were exposed to a patient. Therefore, you have to continue with being updated with locations of patients, published by the Ministry on the website, and act in accordance with this information. It is advisable to download “HAMAGEN” application of the Ministry of Health as well, that is automatically scanning locations, published by the Ministry against your locations.
- I have received a message (SMS) that I have to enter isolation, but I am a medical personnel member, and on date specified by the message I was fully protected. What should I do?
You need to refer to your supervisors to make a decision regarding the need for isolation.
If you work in any of the following: The armed forces, hospital, clinic, Magen David Adom Emergency Services Center, a large essential factory, Etc., and at the time of your exposure you were at work – you need to refer to your employer for clarification. You may also send a message to the following e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for the medical teams' hotline. In your appeal, you need to specify your full name, identity number, phone number, details of exposure to a confirmed patient, and explanation of the reasons for contesting the self-isolation directive. Only appeals by medical staff and armed forces will be answered in this e-mail.
Attention! While waiting for a response, you must remain fully isolated.
- I have received a text message and I am trying to call The Ministry of Health Hotline but I cannot get through. What should I do?
Unfortunately, due to the large numbers of patients and contacts, sometimes waiting times at Ministry of Health Hotline is longer than usual. The Ministry of Health has taken actions to increase the capacity significantly in order to achieve reasonable waiting times. If you received no answer or if your call was disconnected, we apologize and ask you to try calling again later.
- I have appealed a text message that I received. How soon can I expect a response and what should I do in the meantime?
According to the law in this matter, the Ministry of Health must answer appeals within 3 days. We spare no efforts in meeting this schedule, but sometimes due to the strain on the system, it takes us longer to respond.
Until you receive a response, you must remain self-isolated, report your isolation location by the proper form, and follow instructions.
- Is tap water safe for use?
Yes. The Ministry of Health encourages the public to continue drinking tap water as normal. According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus has not been discovered in drinking water sources and supply systems. Drinking water sources are being regularly treated for bacteria and viruses, and water arrives treated at your tap.
- Is it necessary to boil tap water?
No, boiling tap water is unnecessary. According to reports from around the world, coronavirus is not found in drinking water sources and supply systems. Drinking water sources are being regularly treated for bacteria and viruses, and water arrives treated at your tap.
- Should I purchase or keep stock of bottled water?
No. The Ministry of Health recommends continuing using tap water as normal. The declaration of a state of emergency in the economy will not affect the supply of safe drinking water to the general public. Routine inspections of drinking water sources and supply systems continue.
- Can the novel coronavirus spread through swimming pool water?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to humans through the water in pools. Proper operation, maintenance and disinfection of the water, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and following Ministry of Health guidance prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Public swimming pools are required by law to have water treatment systems, which include water filtration and chlorine, bromine or other substances disinfection systems, approved by the operator, as well as computerized systems for testing and monitoring the physical and chemical properties of the water (for murkiness and disinfectant residues, e.g.).
Swimming pool operators must follow Emergency Regulations, administrative directives, and the "Purple Badge" guidelines.
- Can the novel coronavirus spread through mikveh water?
There is no evidence that coronavirus can be spread through water. Proper operation, treatment and maintenance of the water, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and following Ministry of Health guidance prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Mikveh water is replaced often and it undergoes filtration and disinfection with chlorine, bromine or any other substance approved by the operator, as required by the Business Licensure Regulations (Appropriate Sanitary Conditions of Mikvehs, 1999).
Mikveh operators must follow the Business Licensure Regulations, Emergency Regulations, and administrative directives for mikvehs.
- Is it possible to become sick with coronavirus through contact with drain water or sewage?
According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that the sewage system serves as a conduit for coronavirus infection. Additionally, in most facilities for the treatment of sewage water, water is disinfected from bacteria and viruses.
- Are those working with sewage or treated wastewater at a higher risk of becoming sick with coronavirus?
So far, there is no evidence that sewage serves as a conduit for coronavirus infection. It seems that the risk of coronavirus infection as a result of contact with sewage and treated wastewater is low. Treated wastewater may contain other disease carrying bacteria and viruses. Infection from bacteria and viruses with higher environmental survivability than coronavirus usually occurs by ingestion. coronavirus main vector for infection from person to person is by droplet infection – droplets originating in the respiratory excretions (i.e., coughing or sneezing) of an infected individual that enter the respiratory systems of uninfected individuals, or through physical contact with an infected person (e.g., through the palm that a coronavirus patient sneezed into).
- Are special precautions against coronavirus necessary for agriculture workers and wastewater workers?
The precautions that exist in normal circumstances also apply during this time. farmers who use wastewater should, in general, regardless of the coronavirus crisis, take sanitary precautions, including washing and sanitizing their hands with water and soap and with sanitizer upon contact with wastewater, especially before contact with food, and to change their work clothes upon completing their work.
- Are special precautions against coronavirus necessary for those working with sewage?
The precautions that exist in normal circumstances also apply during this time. People working with sewage should, regardless of the coronavirus crisis, work according to the Ministry of Labor's guidance. They should also maintain sanitary precautions, including washing and sanitizing their hands with water and soap and with sanitizer upon contact with wastewater, especially before contact with food, and to change their work clothes upon completing their work.
- Can COVID-19 transmit through food?
So far, there are no indications that the virus is transmitted either by food or by food packages.
COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person by respiratory droplets that enter another person's mouth, nose, or eyes, including through contact with contaminated hands.
- How can I stay safe (and prevent the spread of the virus) when shopping?
- It is recommended that you avoid going out for shopping if you have fever or coughing.
- It is recommended that you schedule your shopping for less busy times.
- You should pick a local store that is not very crowded.
- You should go shopping alone and not bring your whole family.
- If possible, it is recommended that people over 65 or with chronic pre-existing conditions will avoid going out for shopping.
- It is recommended that you abide by the general recommendations for preventing infection in public: wear a mask; avoid touching your face; avoid physical contact with other shoppers; and maintain a distance of 2 meters from people as much as possible.
- It is recommended that you wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (alcogel) before and after shopping.
- It is recommended that you use disinfectant wipes to wipe such surfaces as shopping cart handles or shopping bag handles.
- What precautions should I take when receiving grocery deliveries?
Current studies have shown that COVID-19 may remain active and contagious on surfaces or objects for up to 72. However, it usually becomes inactive within 24 hours. Virus survivability on packages is low, and there is no evidence currently that packages may transmit the virus. Immediately upon putting the groceries away, wash your hands with water and soap or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol.
- What precautions should I take when preparing food?
- Wash your hands after contact with food packages, after removing food from its packaging, before preparing the food, after handling raw materials (meat and fish products, eggs, fruits, and vegetables).
- Wash fruits and vegetables with tap water until the coarse dirt is removed. It is not recommended that you wash them with soap (soap does not significantly improve the washing results, and traces of soap my remain on fruits and vegetables. Best results are achieved by rinsing fruits and vegetables under running water and scrubbing them. Washing detergent, in particular, is not intended for washing fruits and vegetables).
- Dry fruits and vegetables by rubbing them with a clean towel.
- Peeled fruits and vegetables such as watermelons or cantaloupes should also be washed before peeling, to reduce the risk of contamination by bacteria.
- Use separate cutting surfaces for raw food and pre-cooked food.
- Keep sensitive foods refrigerated.
- Cook meat products thoroughly to destroy all bacteria.
- Is there a risk for coronavirus infection from contact with surfaces only?
Most coronavirus infection cases result from direct contact between individuals and from exposure to respiratory excretions. The virus is excreted from a sick person's respiratory tracts, mostly when sneezing or coughing. The droplets can be inhaled by other people or land on surfaces.
People who will touch these surfaces shortly afterwards and subsequently touch their mouth, nose, or eyes may become infected. Therefore, it is recommended that you wash with water and soap or hand sanitizer.
- Which surfaces should be cleaned and sanitized?
Mostly surfaces indoors and in the public sphere that come in contact with hands such as railings, handles, faucets, keyboards, desks, and so forth.
- I want to sanitize surfaces at home or in the public sphere. What are the recommendations for an effective sanitization?
• Sanitization is to be done only by wiping the surfaces, and after they were cleaned with water and soap.
• Sanitization is to be done by an alcohol-based sanitizer at a concentrate of at a concentration of at least 70%, or by a chlorine solution (sodium hypochlorite 0.1%) until the surfaces are dry.
- How can I make chlorine solution at a concentrate of sodium hypochlorite 0.1% (domestic bleach)?
Water down 40 ml of bleach solution with 1 liter of water.
Another possibility is to water down a cup of bleach solution with 5 liters of water.
- Is it necessary to mass spray with disinfectants on a surface that requires sanitization?
It is neither necessary nor recommended to perform sanitization by mass spraying or fogging.
- What is the situation in Israel and how is the Ministry of Health prepared for the novel coronavirus?
The Ministry of Health's policy at this time is one of preventing local infection, meaning the isolation of infected and suspected persons and the restriction of gatherings. At the same time, The Ministry continues a policy of "prevention", i.e. reducing the risk of more patients arriving in Israel. Accordingly, the Ministry of Health recommended measures to restrict entry to Israel for non-residents of Israel. In addition, the Ministry of Health has ordered home isolation for anyone who enters Israel from anywhere abroad, for 14 days.
The Ministry of Health follows the situation since it started and keeps in touch with the World Health Organization and other Health Ministries across the world. It issues guidelines to the Healthcare System and the general public on how to prepare for the possible spread of the virus to Israel. The healthcare system can identify potential infections, isolate them, diagnose them, and treat them.
- For questions about home isolation and general questions about the novel coronavirus, call the Ministry of Health Hotline *5400 (available 24/7).
- For comprehensive information on the COVID-19 outbreak from multiple ministries, click here for Gov.il.