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Sheba to launch pilot to enable rapid testing in schools on Sunday


A special pilot program that could enable students to return to school faster than planned will launch Sunday at the Gymnasia Herzliya Hebrew High School.“Safe Life – Learning Alongside the Coronavirus” program was founded by Sheba Medical Center’s Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit.The first step of the program involves screening students and staff members with a serological test, which will show if they have ever had the virus and are immune to contracting the disease. Students who test positive for antibodies will receive a “green card,” explained Dr. Mayan Gilboa, a fellow in the Infectious Disease Unit who works with Regev-Yochay. After that, students and staff will be screened three times per week using a rapid antigen test to determine if they are positive for coronavirus. “With this special test, we can get results on the spot, in like 15 minutes,” Gilboa said. Moreover, although in the first weeks, the project will be run by Sheba and other medical personnel, ultimately the tests do not require medical supervision, Gilboa said. Therefore, they can and will be administered by school nurses and students who volunteer with Magen David Adom. If a person does test positive for coronavirus, then as per Health Ministry guidelines, that individual and anyone who has come in contact with him or her will still need to enter isolation. During isolation, these students and staff will be able to come to the school and be screened at a drive-in facility. However, Gilboa said that the regular testing may eventually enable the ministry to allow them to exit quarantine after less time.

Currently, people who came in contact with a sick person must quarantine for between 12 and 14 days. The pilot will start at 9:15 a.m. Sunday at the Gymnasia. Later in the week, the Bikurim Youth Village in the Eshkol region will join the pilot. It is also expected that a school in Taibeh and a Religious Zionist school will later take part.

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