May 5, 2021

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Israel Thinking About Ditching Requirement of Outdoor Masks

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In recent news, the State of Israel has announced that it is thinking about doing away with the requirement of people wearing masks outdoors. This idea was brought forward in light of the local coronavirus cases dropping below 4,900. 

It was also revealed that this move had been given the green light by the Health Ministry. Their only condition was that as long as the number of cases continues to decline, there should be no compulsion to wear masks outside the house. 

Consequently, the regulation has been scheduled to change from the 18th of April. The relevant authorities have stated that they want to wait until after Israel’s 73rd Independence Day, which is just around the corner. 

15th April marks the day that Israel became independent and so, is a cause for celebration. Therefore, to minimize the chances of a large outbreak, it was suggested by Health Officials to change the regulation after the day has passed. 

The head of Public Health Services, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, publicly acknowledged that the officials of the Ministry have been discussing this move quite regularly. 

The Director of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at the Sheba Medical Center, Dr. Eyal Leshem, asserted how important it is for public health interventions to find a balance between public safety and effectiveness. He added that it is common knowledge that wearing masks outdoors is simply not as effective as it is wearing them indoors. 

According to him, not many people are practicing wearing masks these days due to the declining number of cases and the success of the vaccination campaign. Thus, Leshem believes that when the cases are at an all-time low and a greater chunk of the population has recovered or been vaccinated, it would not be senseless to ditch the requirement in question. He further evaluated this situation from the perspective of public health, as well as epidemiology. 

As per a report published by the Ministry just recently, more than 300 cases were identified this week on Tuesday. Of the 60,000 tests administered, only around 0.5% came up with a positive result. This rate is quite close to the one that the country had just a couple of days ago, which is also just as low as a figure from May of last year. The past week was quite good for the State of Israel since the number of new cases on a daily basis did not move past 420. 

In the past few days, the number of patients on ventilators and in serious conditions has readily declined. It stood at 157 and 309, respectively, on Wednesday. A week ago, these two numbers were, respectively, 202 and 391. 

As of now, the total death toll stands at 6,261. In the last 24 hours, an additional five people have lost the battle with the deadly disease. 

Leshem further highlighted that relevant health authorities should focus on issuing simple, well-explained, and clear guidelines for the people. This will help the citizens adhere to the new regulations, as well as avoid confusion. 

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