Israel’s nurses strike to protest extra load due to the coronavirus


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Nurses in Israel launched a general strike on Monday to protest the difficult loads placed on them due to staff shortages in part because of the coronavirus crisis.

The strike started in the morning following meetings between the heads of the nurses’ unions and the director-general of the Health Ministry that lasted all Sunday night.

Nurses worked on a reduced schedule in hospitals, except in emergency rooms and in coronavirus wards and testing centers.

“The nursing system is collapsing,” union head Ilana Cohen told the Kan public broadcaster. “Forty coronavirus wards were opened. Where do you think they took the shifts from?”

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein acknowledged in interviews that the nursing shortage was not only due to the coronavirus.

The Health and Finance ministries announced Monday evening that they would enable the hiring of  2,000 more nurses and 400 doctors, Kan reported. The announcement said that 700 administrative officials and other health workers will be hired to help deal with hospitalized coronavirus patients.

Late on Monday night the nurses’ unions called off the strike, and agreed to return to work on Tuesday.

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