Residents of four Arab villages in the Galilee in northern Israel were instructed by the Ministry of Health to stay at home due to a spike in the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the area, the Communist daily Al-Ittihad reported on Thursday, April 16. Police and volunteers were called to the area in an attempt to contain the spread of the infection and mitigate the conditions of people who have contracted the disease.
Following reports of a sharp increase in the number of new coronavirus cases, the Health Ministry instructed the residents of Deir al-Assad, Nahf, Bi’ina and Majd al-Krum to remain at home. Since “drive-in” testing facilities were set up in the area this past week, some 31 new cases have been confirmed, 23 of whom are residents of Deir al-Assad, four from Nahf, three from Bi’ina and one from Majd al-Krum.
Since the first incidence of the pandemic in Israel, Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash) has repeatedly called for expanding coronavirus testing for Arab communities. After the Health Ministry warned of an epicenter emanating from the northern town of Deir al-Assad, Jabareen wrote in Al-Ittihad: “Once again, I am warning about the worrying and extreme under-testing in Arab communities that could lead to a disaster of unprecedented proportions.” The lawmaker maintains that additional testing is needed immediately among Arab communities in Israel “so we can get a better picture of the infection rate relative to the general population.”
According to the Al-Ittihad news website, there have been 510 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Arab citizens of Israel, just over 4% of the 12,200 total infections in the country. Considering that Arabs make up some 20% of Israel’s population, the relatively low number of reported infections is ostensibly due to the lack of testing.