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COVID: Cabinet meets on new restrictions as Israel registers almost 4,000

CM 03/08/2021

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Israel’s coronavirus cabinet met on Tuesday evening as the country registered over 3,800 new cases in the previous 24 hours, the highest since the beginning of March.

The ministers were set to discuss imposing new restrictions to contain the new wave, including tightening the green pass outline, returning masks outdoors and approving more stringent criteria to place foreign countries under travel restrictions.
On Monday Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly warned his government that “painful steps” might be necessary.
With some 15 people who died since Monday morning, the country also recorded the highest daily toll in four months, while the number of serious patients stood at 221, some nine more than on the previous day and 66 more than last Tuesday.

“We have to say with honesty, hope is not a working plan,” Bennett said according to Channel 12. “We are currently continuing to pursue in the approach we have taken, following the total number of serious patients – hospitalized, ventilated, on Ecmo and so on – and we want to see the effect. We are keeping our finger on the pulse all the time. Painful steps may be required.”
Bennett also noted that the number of serious patients is doubling every ten days.
“In another ten days we expect to have some 400 patients,” he remarked. “The rate of doubling is alarming and the numbers speak for themselves. We are making a big effort to encourage immunization, are considering expanding the third vaccine to younger people and hope to see a halt.”
Among other measures, the ministers are considering returning to a more rigorous version of the green pass.
The outline, which currently grants access to venues and activities only to people who are fully vaccinated, recovered or who underwent a coronavirus test in the previous 72 hours, applies only to gatherings larger than 100 people. The cabinet might decide to bring back the full system, which applied to several activities regardless of the number of participants.
In addition, they might cancel the current exemption for children under 12.
Mandatory masks for gatherings outdoors, a cap on gatherings and limits on the number of workers present in public offices are also reportedly being considered.
Further restrictions on travel are also on the agenda, with the Health Ministry proposing stricter criteria to require travelers to quarantine regardless of their immunization status, a few hours after an additional 18 countries, including the US and France, were placed under severe travel warning.
On Monday, Channel 12 also said that Bennett is starting to consider the possibility of imposing a lockdown during the Jewish holidays in September, if general and serious morbidity continue to follow a progression similar to the current one.
Some 3,818 new cases were identified on Monday, with 3.78% of the 113,723 tests processed returning a positive result. Like the number of new cases, the positive rate also marks the highest since the beginning of March.
In order to face the increase in morbidity, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that an additional 1,000 reservists will be called back to support the ministry’s activity related to the pandemic. IDF soldiers are employed for several logistical activities.
In addition, some 500 medics are going to be recruited to assist the Health Ministry’s vaccination efforts.
The campaign to vaccinate individuals over 60 with a third shot continues at full speed.
The two biggest Israeli healthcare providers, Clalit and Maccabi, announced that they have already jabbed some 70,000 and 55,000 of their members, and another 180,000 and 125,000 have booked an appointment for the upcoming days.
“Everyone should know that almost 9 out of 10 serious patients are over the age of 60,” Bennett said as he accompanied his mother Mirna to get inoculated in the morning. “The third vaccine, simply ‘recharges’ the body’s defenses and allows us to save lives.”PM NAFTALI BENNETT accompanied his mother Mirna to get a third COVID-19 booster shot, August 3, 2021PM NAFTALI BENNETT accompanied his mother Mirna to get a third COVID-19 booster shot, August 3, 2021
“I would have come even if he was not the Prime Minister, because I believe it is really important to all of us,” echoed Mirna. “Old men and women are doing it, but I worry about the young who did not get the first vaccine. I want to be with my son on Rosh Hashanah, and at my grandson’s wedding in October. I do not want another lockdown.”

Also on Tuesday, the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee approved the government’s request to employ technological tools to monitor the compliance with quarantine requirements.
Specifically, the authorities have been looking into a monitoring system that would allow the police to send an SMS or call the individual in quarantine and localize their phone.
However, according to the original legal framework approved by the full Knesset in the spring, the individual should be given the choice to opt out technological surveillance tools and choose to quarantine in a state-run hotel.
Since the government currently does not intend to offer this option, the committee approved the authorization to use electronic tools only until August 17 and ask the government to update the relevant legislation as soon as possible.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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