Israel has now made it mandatory for anyone over the age of three to present a negative COVID-19 test or vaccination before entering any indoor space, as it is tackling a sharp surge in infections. Cafes, restaurants, libraries, pools, gyms, and museums are amongst the venues that fall under the ‘Green Pass’ system. However, people don’t have to provide proof of immunity for entering malls and shops. Despite having a world-leading vaccination campaign, the COVID-19 tsar of the country said that they were ‘at at war’ with the coronavirus. On Wednesday, speaking to a parliamentary committee, Salman Zarka said that morbidity was rising with each passing day.
He warned that the next two weeks would be ‘critical’ as they lead up to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year Festival scheduled for September 6th. He also added that if things do not improve, then a lockdown would be imposed in the country, much like the first and the second one, where people wouldn’t be allowed to go further than 100 meters from their homes. There has been a surge of infections in Israel since late June due to the more contagious Delta variant. On Tuesday, a total of 7,870 cases were reported by the Health Ministry, which was a bit lesser than the six-month daily record on Monday of 8,752 cases.
In the past week, more than 120 people have died because of the virus, which is double the total that was recorded in July. Moreover, 600 people are in the hospital due to serious conditions. The government has attempted to tackle the surge by bringing back the Green Pass system and reinstated the restrictions they had lifted in mid-June. The former system shows whether someone has tested negative in the last 24 hours, recently recovered from the virus, or has been fully vaccinated.
Before the new restrictions imposed on Wednesday, adults, and children aged 12 and over who were eligible to get a vaccine, had to present a Green Pass. It is now applicable to children between the age of 3 and 11. The government will fund their tests because they are not eligible for vaccination unless they are at least five years old and are considered at high risk from COVID-19. As for the one million residents of the country, which is about 11% of the population, who have chosen not to get vaccinated, even though they are eligible, will be required to pay for their own tests.
Israel has also introduced the campaign of giving a third booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to medical workers, people with underlying conditions, or above the age of 50. 1.1 million people have received the third shot so far in the country. Maccabi, the Israeli healthcare provider, has reported that a third dose has proven to be 86% effective at preventing infection in people aged 60 and above. Mr. Zarka also disclosed that none of the people in serious condition in the hospital have received a booster shot.