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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

COVID: Israel registers almost 4,000 cases as cabinet prepares to meet

Israel’s coronavirus cabinet was scheduled to meet Tuesday evening as the country registered over 3,800 new cases in the previous 24 hours, the highest since the beginning of March.

The ministers will discuss imposing new restrictions to contain the new wave, as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly warned his government that “painful steps” might be necessary.

With some 15 people who died since Monday morning, the country also recorded the highest daily toll in four months, while the number of serious patients stood at 221, some nine more than on the previous day and 66 more than last Tuesday.

  

“We have to say with honesty, hope is not a working plan,” Bennett said according to Channel 12. “We are currently continuing to pursue in the approach we have taken, following the total number of serious patients – hospitalized, ventilated, on Ecmo and so on – and we want to see the effect. We are keeping our finger on the pulse all the time. Painful steps may be required.”

Bennett also noted that the number of serious patients is doubling every ten days.

“In another ten days we expect to have some 400 patients,” he remarked. “The rate of doubling is alarming and the numbers speak for themselves. We are making a big effort to encourage immunization, are considering expanding the third vaccine to younger people and hope to see a halt.”

Among other measures, the ministers will discuss returning a more stringent version of the green pass.

“We are considering tightening the green pass and additional measures as much as possible, without harming economic activity,” Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash said in a press briefing on Monday.

The outline, which currently grants access to venues and activities only to people who are fully vaccinated, recovered or who underwent a coronavirus test in the previous 72 hours, applies only to gatherings larger than 100 people.

According to reports in Israeli media, among the steps that the ministers will consider is to bring back a full green pass system, which applied to several activities regardless of the number of participants, and to cancel the current exemption for children under 12.

In addition, mandatory masks for large gatherings outdoors, a cap on gatherings and limits on the number of workers present in public offices might be discussed.

Channel 12 also said that Bennett is starting to consider the possibility of imposing a lockdown during the Jewish holidays in September, if general and serious morbidity continue to follow a progression similar to the current one.

In the briefing, Ash described the situation as worrisome.

Some 3,818 new cases were identified on Monday, with 3.78% of the 113,723 tests processed returning a positive result. Like the number of new cases, also the positive rate marks the highest since the beginning of March. 

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