Israeli PM: Serious COVID Cases to Quadruple in 20 Days, We Must Impose New Restrictions

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, yesterday
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, yesterdayCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke on Tuesday with the coalition party heads about the rising COVID infection rates, hours before the coronavirus cabinet meeting that's expected to take place this afternoon. 

Experts explain: If most Israelis are vaccinated, why is COVID surging?

Bennett said that further restrictions need to be already imposed, adding that within twenty days the number of critical patients is expected to rise to 800.

A senior official in the Health Ministry told Haaretz on Tuesday that the ministry is laying the groundwork for implementing a lockdown during the September holiday period.

Israel's coronavirus cabinet is slated to meet on Tuesday to discuss further measures to stop the spread of infection.

New coronavirus cases have neared 4,000 on Tuesday, Health Ministry data showed, for the first time since early March. In addition to the 3,818 new COVID cases diagnosed on Monday, Israel also recorded a four-month high for patients in serious condition, with 221 people. 

The percentage of positive coronavirus tests is also steadily rising, with 3.78 percent of Monday's tests returning positive. 

Number of daily and serious coronavirus cases in Israel Credit: Israeli Health Ministry

Also Tuesday, a Knesset panel has approved requiring all arrivals from 18 countries to enter mandatory quarantine after landing in the country, including the United States, Germany, France, Italy and Greece. The requirement will take effect on Friday, and will also apply to arrivals from Ukraine, Iceland, Eswatini, Botswana, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Tanzania, Malawi, Egypt, the Czech Republic, Rwanda and Tunisia. 

Since the pandemic began in Israel, 6,492 people have died of COVID-19.

Israel is continuing to spearhead its COVID-19 booster vaccination campaign, with nearly 40,000 elderly citizens and people with underlying medical conditions receiving the third jab since the weekend. 

On Monday, Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said that the spike in new daily COVID-19 infections "is worrying," adding that further restrictions are being considered.  

However, Ash stressed that the Health Ministry is trying to curb the spread of the highly contagious delta variant without paralyzing the economy. 

In a press conference, Ash said the Health Ministry had developed a special index to monitor the hospitals' total COVID case load. He added people who have received the third jab have not reported any side effects thus far.

On Sunday, a team of officials from the Education, Health and Finance ministries presented a three-stage plan to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that would allow the educational system to operate even if the coronavirus continues to spread. 

The first stage calls for identifying all the schoolchildren who have recovered from the coronavirus through a broad serological survey. In the second phase, the extent of infections in the schools will be monitored and outbreaks identified. The third step in the outline calls for schools to work locally to reduce the need for quarantine among students who have been exposed to confirmed cases. 

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