Coronavirus Live Israel: UAE Transfers 20,000 Russian Vaccine Doses to Gaza

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Haaretz
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Palestinians walk past a truck carrying a shipment of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine sent by United Arab Emirates, at Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip today.
Palestinians walk past a truck carrying a shipment of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine sent by United Arab Emirates, at Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip today.Credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS
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Haaretz

This story is no longer being updated. Follow live updates here.

Israel is in the midst of an extensive vaccination campaign, and is beginning to see a drop in COVID infections and severe cases. Israel exited its third nationwide lockdown, but inbound and outbound flights remain suspended except for special cases. So far, 5,569 Israelis have died of the virus.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip received 1,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, though it may take at least a few more months for their campaigns to reach enough members of the population. 1,629 people have died so far in the West Bank, while 543 have died in Gaza.

>> How many have already been vaccinated

>> Israel reopens, with more COVID rules relaxed: Here's everything you need to know

>> Israel's lessons and warnings for the world, two months into vaccine drive

LIVE UPDATES

9:58 P.M. Israel to receive last shipment of Pfizer COVID vaccines in next two weeks

Israel is expected to receive its final shipments of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine in the coming two weeks.

The government and the pharmaceutical giant had signed a deal for ten million doses – enough to fully inoculate about five million Israelis – and these last 1.5 million doses will complete it.

According to sources in the health maintenance organizations, the timetable for the shipments is not likely to affect the timing of the vaccination campaign or appointments.

Health care officials said that around 500,000 doses from the new shipments will be used to give second doses to people who have already received their first shot. Normally, the HMOs reserve second doses for everyone who has already gotten the first, but due to a recent temporary shortage of vaccines, some of those reserves were used to provide additional first doses, with the knowledge that new shipments would be arriving soon. (Ido Efrati)

>> Read the full report

7:45 P.M. Quarantine at state-run facilities not enforced, may have led to outbreaks of variants, health official says

A senior Health Ministry official said Sunday that the law demanding that travelers returning to Israel from abroad quarantine in designated state-run facilities is not being enforced, and therefore "does not represent an optimal solution to the fear of the spread of coronavirus variants.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the head of the public health services at the ministry, presented the opinion to the Knesset, whose Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved extending by 24 hours the mandate for returning travelers to quarantine in designated hotels. The committee asked that the Health Ministry present them with an alternative plan for supervising returning travelers.

According to the opinion submitted by Alroy-Preis, since the decision that all unvaccinated returnees quarantine in a facility went into effect earlier this month, most returning travelers "Were not asked to quarantine in a hotel, and therefore may have spread the coronavirus variants."  

According to Health Ministry data presented by Alroy-Preis, between February 2-13, only about a third of people who needed to be quarantined and entered the country were sent to these hotels. Among those who were sent to facilities, there is no guaranty that they remained there. (Jonathan Lis)

7:15 P.M. Israel's 15 biggest cities decide to reopen grades 7-10 on Wednesday

Forum 15, The Israeli Forum of Self-Government Cities, which represents Israel's 15 biggest cities decided to reopen classes for seventh through 10th grades starting February 24, and not on March 9 as was decided by the government.

The students will attend classes in smaller groups twice or three times a week, the forum said in a statement. Students will continue remote learning or studying in small groups outdoors for the rest of the week, which has already been approved by the government.

The forum explained that the decision was based on "pedagogical, social, and mental hardships" faced by students, and reiterated that the decision to reopen the classes sits with the school principals.

The Teacher's Union, of which some of the middle school teachers are members, said that "There is one employer for teaching staff in Israel, and it's the Education Ministry, and only they have been given the authority to decide on opening or closing schools." 

The Center for Local Government also criticized the decision, saying that these authorities must act "only in accordance with the law and in cooperation with the government," adding that the center asked the prime minister Sunday morning to reopen grades seven through 10 as soon as possible.

Education Minister Yoav Gallant responded to the forum's decision in a Channel 13 interview: "Let's remember that in Israel, when the government makes a decision and releases guidelines from the Knesset, it is law," he said, adding that the government pays teachers' salaries. "Mayors are serious people. They won't take it upon themselves to break Israeli law. We're not playing here."

Thus far, 17 municipalities have announced that they will resume seven through 10th grade classes: Ashdod, Givatayim, Be'er Sheva, Herzliya, Hadera, Holon, Kfar Sava, Petah Tikva, Ra'anana, Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion, Rehovot, Haifa, Netanya, Ramat Gan, Ramat Hasharon and the Gezer Regional Council.

Last Thursday, the Health Ministry denied a request from the Education Ministry Yoav Gallant to advance the decision to open middle schools. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

6:07 P.M. City to reopen schools for grades seven through 10

Herzliya mayor Moshe Fadlon announced Sunday evening, together with the local parents' association, that in-school classes will be resuming for seventh through 10th graders starting Wednesday.

Classes will be held partially in small capsules in classrooms, partially in outdoor areas and partially through remote learning. (Bar Peleg)

5:00 P.M. UAE Transfers 20,000 Doses of Russia's Sputnik V COVID Vaccine to Gaza

The United Arab Emirates transferred Sunday 20,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines to the Gaza Strip.

The shipment entered through the Rafah Border Crossing on the Strip's border with Egypt, without Israeli involvement.

Last week, about a thousand coronavirus vaccine doses were sent to Gaza by the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah, with Israeli approval. (Jack Khoury)

>> Read the full report

4:30 P.M. One case of Ugandan COVID strain found in Israel, pandemic czar says

Coronavirus Czar Prof. Nachman Ash said that one case of the Ugandan variant has been detected in Israel, adding that the clinical significance of this is still unknown.

Speaking at a briefing for Health Ministry staff Sunday, Ash added that about 90 percent of the new daily COVID-19 infections in Israel are the result of the virus' British variant.

"The number of daily diagnoses is still very high, even if there's a downward trend, Ash said. "We're following the other emerging variants on a daily basis." 

Ash also warned that if Infection rates spike, it would force Israel "to take measures of closing again the economy and the education system," adding that it might even lead to another "lockdown."  

He added that the South African variant has been found in about one percent of cases in Israel, and the variant first identified in California in seven cases as well. (Haaretz)

>> Click here to read the full story

11:45 A.M. Number of seriously hospitalized patients continues to decline

According to data released by the Health Ministry on Sunday morning, the number of hospitalized patients in serious condition is continuing to decline, with 858 people currently hospitalized in serious condition, 276 of whom are on venitlators. 

To date, 5,563 people have died from the virus since the pandemic broke out in Israel. (Haaretz

11:00 A.M. 32-year-old pregnant woman dies after contracting COVID-19

A 32-year-old mother of four who was 30 weeks pregnant died on Sunday morning at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, after having contracted COVID. 

Despite tremendous efforts made by a multidisciplinary team of senior specialists, which included prolonged resuscitation efforts and even a caesarean section, doctors were unable to save the mother and her fetus, the hospital said. 

The woman from Givat Ze'ev was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit last Tuesday in critical condition, on account of respiratory distress. On Saturday night, her medical condition deteriorated rapidly to the point of multi-system failure. (Ido Efrati)

8:15 A.M. Israel reopens malls, street shops, more schools

The cabinet approved on Friday a plan to reopen some schools, street shops, malls and open-air markets starting Sunday, as part of a series of measures to relax coronavirus restrictions that have been in effect during Israel's third nationwide lockdown.

The plan includes separate regulations for places that will open to the general public, including shops, museums and libraries, and those that will operate under the so-called Green Pass regulations, opening their doors only to people who have recovered from COVID or received both vaccine doses against it.

Green Pass venues include houses of worship, cultural events, gyms, hotels and swimming pools. To enter, those eligible to do so will be required to present valid ID and a so-called Green Pass, vaccination certificate, or official document stating they had the virus and recovered, as relevant. (Haaretz)

>> Click here to read more about obtaining a Green Pass, where it can be used and other rules that apply

SATURDAY

11:40 P.M. COVID ‘Green Pass’ app crashes evening before launch

The Health Ministry’s ‘Green Pass’ application, which will allow Israelis to access several reopened venues, has crashed due to high traffic the evening before its slated launch on Sunday. 

The Green Pass may be obtained by anybody one week after they received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine starting Sunday through the "Ramzor" (Traffic Light) app. After selecting the "Green Pass Issuance" option, those who are eligible to get it, will receive a moving animated image (GIF) of the Pass, indicating that the process has been completed. Once the Pass is issued, it permanently remains in the app.

The Health Ministry said it was aware of the issues and is working on fixing them.  

The plan includes separate regulations for places that will open to the general public, including shops, museums and libraries, and those that will operate under the so-called Green Pass regulations, opening their doors only to people who have recovered from COVID or received both vaccine doses against it.

Green Pass venues include houses of worship, cultural events, gyms, hotels and swimming pools. To enter, those eligible to do so will be required to present valid ID and a so-called Green Pass, vaccination certificate, or official document stating they had the virus and recovered, as relevant. (Oded Yaron)

>> Click here to read the full report

6:57 P.M. Israel has 'willingness' to vaccinate Palestinian workers, but not sure yet

Israel has yet to decide on vaccinating Palestinian workers in the country, officials told Haaretz, a day after the Palestinian Authority said Israel has agreed to do so.

Israeli officials stressed that any such decision would have to be approved by the government or political leadership, and while “there is willingness” to advance the move, no decision has been made so far.

Israeli and Palestinian health officials met in Ramallah on Friday and discussed cooperation in efforts to curb the spread of the virus, and particularly new strains of it. (Hagar Shezaf)

>> Click here to read more

6:38 P.M. Pfizer vaccine is 98.9-percent effective in preventing death, Israeli data shows

Data taken up to February 13, 2021 shows overwhelming success in preventing severe illness in people who have received two doses of the vaccine, Israel's Health Ministry said.

This also includes a 95.8 percent success rate in preventing the illness altogether. (Haaretz)

>> Click here to read the full report

9:08 A.M. Israel secretly agreed to purchase COVID vaccines for Syria in deal to free Israeli

Israel has agreed to purchase hundreds of thousands of Russian-made COVID vaccines that will be given to Syria, according to foreign reports. The pledge to buy the vaccines appeared in a secret clause of a deal with the Assad regime to release an Israeli woman who crossed the border into Syria.

Syria's official news agency, SANA, denied reports of the vaccine agreement, saying that it was a lie meant to portray Israel as a humanitarian nation and improve its image. (Amos Harel)

>> Click here to read the full report

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