At midnight on Sunday, the new relaxed requirements for the Green Pass went into effect, as part of further easing of COVID restrictions, which coincide with the abating Omicron wave of the virus in Israel. The Green Pass was required to show a negative test result for COVID-19, or proof of vaccination, at movie theaters, restaurants, hotels and gyms. However, this requirement is no longer applicable. The current Green Pass is issued to those who have gotten two dose of the vaccine in the last four months, have received three or four doses at any time, or those who have recovered from the virus.
As per the new rules that went into effect, people would still have to present a valid Green Pass on entering indoor sites, where the risk of infection is high, such as dance clubs and event halls. The new measures also involved removal of limit on the crowd in gatherings where organizers require the Green Pass, as well as removal of all ‘Purple Pass’ requirements that were applicable at commercial sites. The Director-General of the Health Ministry, Nachman Ash stated that the decision to remove the Green Pass was because of its lack of ‘effectiveness’.
He added that since the Omicron variant was also infecting those who were vaccinated, the document is no longer effective in most places and they had decided to use it only at high-risk locations. He said that this was part of the trend of having to live with COVID-19. The restrictions were eased in Israel as case numbers dropped rapidly, but there was an increase in the number of serious patients. This measure is known for lagging behind a couple of weeks. On Sunday, this figure climbed to its highest at 1,263. But, it had dropped to 1,255 by Sunday evening, as per the data provided by the Health Ministry.
Before the number had risen on Saturday to 1,229, the last time the number of serious cases had been this high was back in January 2021. Even then, the number of serious cases had been 1,193. Since late December, there has been a steady increase in the number of serious patients. Back then, the number of serious cases had stood at 75, but it had increased rapidly because of the highly-contagious Omicron variant. According to the ministry, the number of serious cases is more common amongst unvaccinated individuals. There are 415.6 serious cases in every 100,000 people who are unvaccinated, as opposed to 35.9 in those who are vaccinated.
On Saturday, the total number of cases that were diagnosed was around 37,985 and the positivity test rate was around 28.79%. Experts have stated that the actual number of cases may actually be higher and testing is done in limited numbers over the weekend. A week ago, 400,000 tests had been conducted, but 146,000 tests were done on Saturday. The total number of people in hospitals was around 2,815 and the ministry data showed that about 374 people were in serious condition.