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A first hand account of the spread of the virus in Israel and the toll

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An Israeli woman receives COVID-19 vaccine at a shopping mall parking lot during a national lockdown in Givatayim near Tel Aviv, Israel, 20 January 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN)

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January was a bleak month for many people in the State of Israel and across the globe. So far, 753,589 Canadians have gotten the coronavirus and 20,135 have succumbed to it. In the State of Israel, there have been 656,016 coronavirus cases since the beginning and so far, 4,886 Israelis have succumbed to it. On December 27, 2020, the third lockdown began in the Jewish state and it has not ended yet. 

We are living a bleak reality in the State of Israel and across the world. Israelis cannot go to theaters, to the hair salon, to the gym, to shopping malls, to nature reserves, or even to other Israeli’s homes. Restaurants are open for deliveries only. Schools and kindergartens are completely shuttered. Movement is restricted to 1,000 meters from home, except for essential cases.  

Yet, despite all these intense lockdown restrictions, there was an average of around 10,000 new coronavirus cases per day in Israel in mid-January. The number of new infections per day has since dropped, yet there are still 1,113 coronavirus patients seriously ill in hospitals, of whom 324 are ventilated. Our hospitals are overwhelmed. I do not think the situation is much better in the rest of the world.  If anything, it is worse in many places.

It was during this bleak month of January, that I got the coronavirus. 

My mother-in-law had gotten the coronavirus yet was in denial about it for a while because she had gotten dose one of the vaccine. For this reason, she dismissed her symptoms as a side effect of the vaccine and continued to come over to my home to help me with childcare, as if she were fine.  After all, we were under lockdown and I had to work, so she helped me with the children. This is how she infected both her husband and me, for she did not socially distance the second she got sick. Thankfully, she did not infect any of her children or grandchildren, even though they spent a lot of time with her before she was diagnosed.

Fortunately, I did not make the same mistake. The second my mother-in-law was diagnosed – our entire family was placed into quarantine. It was illegal for me to leave my home for any reason. 

The State of Israel’s intelligence services track the telephones of anyone who was exposed to the coronavirus and hunt down anyone who violates the law. We ordered food to our door. I had a girlfriend deliver medicine outside my door. I got the newspaper and took out the trash without my cellphone in the middle of the night. The only fresh air I breathed was from my balcony or my windows. 

This was my life as someone who was exposed to someone with the coronavirus in the State of Israel.

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A few days into our quarantine, I started to feel ill myself. I had a cold and a sore throat, which rapidly developed into chills, headaches, and dizziness. As a result, my husband and I started to maintain a two-meter distance while sleeping in separate rooms and using separate bathrooms. When I started to develop shortness of breath and lost my sense of smell, I arranged to have a Magen David Adom medic come to my house to give me the coronavirus test, as I did not have the ability to leave my home to do it due to the fact I lacked a driver’s license. He came dressed in a big white suit and tested me. 

A few days later, I received a phone call from the Israeli Health Ministry, my family doctor, and the Netanya Municipality, notifying me that I had the coronavirus and must not leave my home. Israel’s Welfare Services called and offered me assistance. The Israel Police sent me an SMS warning me of consequences should I leave my home, yet also offered to help me if I needed it. Clalit Health Clinic left a device outside my door to monitor my breathing, as well as several masks and a booklet in Hebrew explaining how to prevent the coronavirus from spreading among different family members.  A Jewish organization offered me advice on how I could heal myself. 

From that moment onwards, I had to barricade myself in my office and could only leave it to go to the kitchen, balcony or bathroom wearing a mask. My husband took out the trash and got the newspaper for me, which he left outside my door. For one hour in the evening, I sat with my husband watching television in separate rooms, with me wearing a mask.  That was our only interaction. I was completely isolated from everyone. When my husband tested coronavirus negative twice, he was removed from quarantine due to the fact I self-isolated (if not, he would have had to spend an additional two weeks in quarantine after the first one ended) and sometimes ran errands. 

During these times, I had to watch the children from a separate room and thus could not really discipline them. It was not easy for me to be separated from my children. Nor was it easy on them. My baby son constantly tried to break down my office door and my daughter left numerous pictures outside of them, trying to cheer me up. At times, I yelled at them from a different room wearing a mask, but I did not dare approach them. 

For Shabbat, my husband made sure that he left the home with the kids to go to his mother that recently recovered from corona and only then I could be free at home. I felt like a bird liberated from a cage. It was not easy being secluded into one room like that. Having a stay-at-home order, I could deal with. It was the single room imprisonment that came with being diagnosed coronavirus positive that was exceedingly difficult for me.

Fortunately, because I am a journalist who generally works from home, I was able to work while I was in coronavirus isolation.  If I had not been able to do that, I would have gone crazy. While I was sick, I was a case with mild symptoms. I was fatigued, but I was not out of commission. I managed to get more work done in coronavirus quarantine than I could in lockdown without childcare support. That is what I told myself to cheer myself up.  At least in quarantine, nobody could bother me, telling me to clean this or that or to do x, y and z with the children. I had my quiet to work and to rest. And it was my work that mentally kept me sane in isolation.  

Despite intense lockdown restrictions, there was an average of around 10,000 new coronavirus cases per day in Israel in mid-January. (Image: Johns Hopkins University)

In the grand scheme of things, I was one of the lucky ones. The second I was diagnosed, I went to a holistic doctor, who recommended that I make a drastic lifestyle change. I started to take vitamin D and C supplements, in addition to radically changing my diet to include more oranges, spicy stir fry, more sushi and Indian food, more soups and teas, and more mangos, avocados and lemons. I also went from going almost never outside on my balcony to sitting outside to get 20 minutes of sunlight daily. Doing this helped to drastically reduce my coronavirus symptoms.

Looking back on my situation, I was incredibly lucky to have mild symptoms, which went away simply by getting more vitamins and changing my diet. Others were not so lucky. My husband’s aunt Rachel Greidi just passed away this week. She had gotten the coronavirus, which weakened her entire immune system. Although she technically recovered from the coronavirus six months ago, the fact that she had other health issues turned out to be deadly. She simply could not fight them off with the weakened immune system that the coronavirus left her with. 

She is not the only victim. All over the world, the coronavirus is slaughtering people. In some places, there are so many dead bodies they are cremating them or burying them in mass graves. In many cases, the family cannot even attend a proper funeral for their loved one, thus moving the entire ceremony to zoom. 

Earlier this year, I attended a zoom funeral for my Uncle Buddy Goldberg in America. It was incredibly sad. However, at least in Israel, Rachel Greidi had a proper funeral, just with less people.  In Orthodox Judaism, a minyan must have 10 people minimum. Nevertheless, the situation is still very tragic, especially for the loved ones that were left behind. There is not a family on earth that is not suffering during this pandemic. 

We just all hope and pray that once enough people get the vaccine, things will improve and we can start restoring the wonderful world that we had before the coronavirus emerged in the Wuhan Province a little over a year ago, wreaking death, havoc and devastation everywhere. 

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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