Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush said on Wednesday that rabbis order yeshiva students who are feeling unwell to avoid getting tested for coronavirus in order to hide the real infection rates within the ultra-Orthodox community.
In an interview with the ultra-Orthodox radio station, Kol BaRama, Porush said that many within the sector are worried a rise in the number of virus diagnoses will lead the government to impose restrictions on areas with high concentrations of ultra-Orthodox.
"Does everyone think it's their job to get tested when they're feeling unwell to become just another number? No," said Porush. "I know there are such guidelines that say, 'If you don't feel well - stay at home, stay in your room.' Not everyone is at peace with the things it brings upon us, such as lockdowns."
However, Porush said that despite avoiding getting tested, there is a high awareness of social distancing orders and strict observance of hygiene within the sector.
Porush made these remarks in opposition to the restrictions imposed on the ultra-Orthodox town of Elad in recent days and the fear of similar lockdowns on other ultra-Orthodox areas. He also claimed that law authorities were much stricter in enforcing the order to wear face masks in public in ultra-Orthodox areas.
A statement from Porush' office said that the deputy minister simply told of a minor phenomenon following government decisions to declare areas with high concentrations of ultra-Orthodox as restricted areas, which were perceived as outrageous by many in the sector, and that he personally does not support the trend.