The Health Ministry is mulling allowing doctors and nurses to continue working even if they were confirmed to have been infected with coronavirus, as long as they remain asymptomatic, sources said Sunday.
The measure comes amid worry by officials that due to a massive surge in infections, too many members of the medical staff will need to enter quarantine, putting a heavy strain on Israel's medical system.
Health Ministry predictions show that the wave, spurred by the highly infectious Omicron variant, will cause thousands of medical personnel miss work due to infection, forcing wards to shut down and surgeries and treatments to be delayed.
Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod reported that while only three workers were infected, 17 are currently in quarantine.
Staff members' quarantine directly affects the patient experience," said the head of administration at Assuta Medical Center.
"We were forced to postpone treatments several times. Administrative workers were also in isolation and unable to work from home, so there are long waits. All this is even before the expected peak in infections, that could also lead to the cancellation of operating rooms due to staff absences."
According to all estimates, infections in the health care system are expected to rise over the next few days, in line with the trend in the general population.
According to the latest Health Ministry data, 1,383 health care employees (including the health funds) were confirmed to have been infected, with hospitals reporting 1,113 infected staff.
Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash was expected to meet with hospital officials later on Sunday to discuss this matter, as well as cut down quarantine time for staff who have been exposed to a carrier but did not test positive for the virus.
Coronavirus cases continued to surge over the weekend, with the Health Ministry confirming 18,806 new infections Friday and another 12,495 by Saturday evening.
The number of seriously ill patients increased to 172, up from 143 the day before.
The total number of active cases stood at 108,239. The death toll remained at 8,259.
First published: 08:34, 01.09.22