• Tue. Dec 5th, 2023

Bennett Mulling Lifting Most Restrictions with Omicron Wave Ebbing

Feb 19, 2022

On Wednesday, the figures released by the Health Ministry in Israel showed that the fifth wave of the coronavirus driven by the Omicron variant continues to recede. The number of patients in serious condition due to COVID-19 declined to 927, which is 50 less than a day earlier. There was also a downward trend seen in the number of infections recorded daily, as Tuesday saw a total of 20,340 new cases diagnosed. When the fifth wave had reached its peak back in January, daily infections as high as 85,185 had been recorded. On Tuesday, a total of 108,571 tests had been conducted and 18.73% had come back positive.

This is the lowest positivity rate to be seen in more than a month. The total number of active patients of COVID-19 in Israel stood at 169,436 and there were five more deaths, which brought the total death toll from the beginning of the pandemic to 9,651. Due to this encouraging news, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was mulling over the idea of removing most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions in the country from March 1st. According to the premier, they should give the public as much freedom as possible, but the authorities should also be prepared for another wave simultaneously.

The approach of the Prime Minister is reportedly set to be based on the lessons learned from what other countries have done. These indicate that the public had stopped adhering to the virus restrictions if they were left in place for too long without any clear need for them. A meeting will be held on Thursday for discussing this matter and the Prime Minister is expected to be in favor of lifting the restrictions gradually. The move could come as early as next week with the country’s borders being opened to welcome unvaccinated kids, thereby allowing families to visit, who have otherwise been banned since the Omicron variant was discovered last year.

The Green Pass system is also expected to be canceled for all gatherings and events in a later development. The purpose of this certificate is to give people access to some public events and venues only to people who have recovered from the virus, are vaccinated against it, or have tested negative for it recently. Earlier this month, some of the Green Pass rules had been lifted already. There would still be a requirement to wear masks in public and the education system would still have to follow the rules. However, the report indicated that they would be reconsidered in a week’s time.

Bennett will prepare for the risk of another wave of the virus by doing an assessment of how this current wave was handled and judge the effectiveness of the different decisions that had been made by authorities for curbing it. Furthermore, virus-specific authorities and systems that were introduced would also continue to operate in a limited capacity, as they might be needed in the future. It is reported that Bennett’s attitude appears to be the opposite of Salman Zarka, the coronavirus czar, who said back on Sunday that despite the decline in morbidity, it was too early to believe the wave was over. 

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