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Mar 19, 2020

Interesting Psak: Answering the CoronaPhone on Shabbos

Rav Yitzchak Zilbershtein, rav of Ramat Elchonon neighborhood of Bnei Braq, issued a psak today in which he discussed the issue of Corona and Shabbos observance.

The issue under discussion is someone who was suspect for possibly bearing the CoronaVirus and had to be tested to confirm one way or the other. Shabbos is coming and the results of the test are on the way. Come late Friday night - the Health Ministry representatives receive the results of the test and need to immediately inform the person if he has COVID-19 or not. It cannot wait - if he has it, he has to immediately go to the hospital, into quarantine, stay away from everyone else.

So they call the guy who is waiting for results. But that fellow is a frum Jew who will not answer the phone on Shabbos. So he goes the entire Shabbos along with his regular schedule - davening in shul, daf yomi shiur, other shiurim, the Shabbos meals, a walk with his family, whatever. Only after Shabbos does he discover that he has Corona, and in the meantime he has exposed and possibly infected dozens of other people.

Rav Zilbershtein paskened that a person who had to be tested for COVID-19 MUST answer the phone on Shabbos to get is results immediately. He should answer with a shinui, by using the backs of his two hands if it is a landline phone, or on his cellphone hit the "answer" button with the back of his left pinky (or right, if a lefty).

If the results are positive, if he has CoronaVirus, he must go immediately to the hospital, ON SHABBOS, for treatment and quarantine. Without any delay.

If there is a need to announce to a neighborhood that they need to go into isolation due to someone local being discovered to have Corona, a PA system can be used and driven around the neighborhood, or any other method deemed necessary, and it should be done by a non-Jew.

May we all have a quiet and healthy Shabbos.

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