COVID in Israel: Infections Rise, 52% of Cases Are Children Under 11

Bennett set to ramp up enforcement and proposes restrictions on unvaccinated Israelis ■ Serious COVID cases fall below 100 for the first time since July

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A child receiving the coronavirus vaccine in Netanya.
A child receiving the coronavirus vaccine in Netanya.Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Israel's rate of coronavirus infection continues to creep up on Thursday, with children aged 11 and under making up 52 percent of active cases, Health Ministry data shows.

Out of 5,971 cases in the country, 14 percent are children under the age of five, while the other 38 percent are aged five to 11, who were given the clearance to receive the first inoculation in November but are still not considered vaccinated.

The R number – the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects – rose to 1.09, meaning the pandemic is expanding.

Although the number is calculated from data from 10 days prior, and does not reflect the jump in infection after Hanukkah festivities, Israel also saw the highest number of new COVID cases since October on Tuesday, fresh on the heels of the holidays. 

Though 786 people tested positive on Tuesday, the daily increase in infections fell to 651 by Thursday and the number of seriously ill fell to 96, the lowest figure since July. Fifty-four are on ventilators. 

In light of the spread, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is weighing up restrictions on unvaccinated Israelis. 

In a discussion with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, it was decided to increase enforcement of Israel's Green Pass regulations, barring unvaccinated people from several activities. The plan will introduce immediate fines for violators, with instructions passed onto police to begin preparations. 

During the discussion, Bennett surprised his Corona cabinet colleagues with two unexpected restrictions: the first, a lockdown for the unvaccinated, the second, a total shutdown of Ben-Gurion International Airport. Bennett's requests were met with resistance as members of the cabinet felt the restrictions were unjustifiable. The State Comptroller warned Bennett that he will need to prove these moves are necessary before it could be approved by the High Court of Justice.

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