On Wednesday, Salman Zarka, the COVID-19 czar in Israel, urged people to start wearing masks indoors. He also asserted that since new cases of the coronavirus are climbing, officials would be meeting in the next few days to consider introducing the indoor mask mandate once more.
Masking is crucial
Zarka said in a briefing that there was an uptick in seriously ill patients and this makes masking indoors crucial because protecting the at-risk population and the elderly is of the utmost importance. There has recently been a surge in coronavirus infections in Israel, as the number of daily cases in the country jumped to 12,000.
As for the number of patients in serious condition, it almost tripled to reach 370. According to Zarka, if the number of patients who are seriously ill and hospitalized continues to move upwards, then they would have to make face masks mandatory in indoor spaces again. He added that the matter would be discussed by officials in the coming days.
However, he added that his professional opinion was to make indoor masks compulsory right away. The indoor face mask requirement had been lifted in Israel in April this year, after they had been made compulsory for two years. The only exception was a two-week period in 2021.
New Omicron variant
The coronavirus czar said that the sixth wave of infections in Israel was happening because of a new variant of the Omicron strain. He said that the new variant was proving to be extremely infectious. He added that 90% of the patients in hospitals were above the age of 60. Therefore, he stated that it was a must for them to wear masks indoors.
He also added that the general public needs to be cautious when they are visiting the elderly and recommended that antigen tests be taken before visiting. Zarka also disclosed that another infectious variant had recently been discovered in India. Thus, those coming from abroad should also take a PCR test.
Mandatory testing post-flights had been canceled in May, but Zarka said that the health ministry was asking those returning from Africa or India to take a PCR test.
Vaccines available for kids
The Health Ministry also announced that Nachman Ash, the director-general, was in support of the decision of an expert panel to vaccinate children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. Currently, the coronavirus vaccines in the country are only available for 5 years and above.
The ministry also asserted that they would replenish their vaccine supplies in the coming weeks to ensure that the country’s tots can get access to it. According to the ministry, the vaccine is recommended for children who have a compromised immune system, or suffer from a chronic health condition because they are more at risk of getting infected.
Figures from the Health Ministry on Tuesday showed that 13,901 new cases had been diagnosed in Israel, which is the highest number of daily cases seen since February 17th. Patients in serious condition reached 376, while the number was 91 a month ago.