On Tuesday, another 521 new cases of the coronavirus were reported by the Health Ministry, which is an increase of 20 cases from Monday. This figure is the highest after March 30th, when a total of 571 people had tested positive for the coronavirus. As of Wednesday morning, the number of patients in serious condition is around 40, which is the highest since late May. This is an increase of two from the day before, with 16 people on ventilators and 17 people in critical condition. In recent days, the rate of positive tests in the country has also stabilized to reach 0.7%.
This comes amidst concern regarding the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, which has proven to be highly contagious. This variant is now responsible for about 90% of the cases in Israel, as per the virus’ genomes tested in the confirmed cases. Meanwhile, a meeting of the coronavirus cabinet on Wednesday saw a number of decisions made, but they did not include imposing any new restrictions. First and foremost, they announced their decision of ramping up the existing vaccination campaign. Plus, the cabinet decided to continue with their strategy of slowing down the spread of the virus, while keeping the damage to the residents’ daily routines and the economy minimal.
Some of the other decisions that were made by the cabinet included requiring people coming from abroad to quarantine until their test results arrive, ensuring all geriatric institutions have rapid testing stations at their entrance, and carrying out rapid coronavirus tests at summer camps and day camps that have more than 100 participants. In addition, it was also decided to ramp up efforts for public information to educate people about getting vaccinated, maintaining physical distance, and wearing masks. The Health Ministry will also consider the possibility of reducing the required number of quarantine days in order to convince the public to comply with the quarantine requirement.
These decisions will come into effect in the next seven days and announcements will be made before it happens. The Prime Minister and the Health Minister were authorized by the cabinet for making day-to-day decisions in order to implement this strategy. The remarks made by Prime Minister Naftali Bennet before the meeting had reinforced expectations that rather than imposing new restrictions, the cabinet would be focusing more on quarantine, even though coronavirus cases are on the rise in Israel.
Bennet emphasized that they were committed to protecting the health of all Israelis and that masks and vaccines could protect against infection. He also expressed excitement over the vaccination of teenagers and disclosed that more than 150,000 teens had been vaccinated in recent days. A total of 17,500 people were vaccinated on Tuesday and the first two doses of the vaccine have been given to at least one-third of the population between the ages of 10 and 19. This week, the Health Ministry also expressed concerns that the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine is a lot lower against the Delta variant than initially presumed.