His remarks came as the number of daily cases of coronavirus infections continued to rise, reaching 283 the day before, a level not seen since April. Infections have steadily increased over the past two weeks from a few dozen cases per day.
Bennett, who was joined by Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz and the new Director General of the Department of Health Nachman Ash, visited a youth vaccination center in Holon as part of efforts to encourage vaccination among children, now that the country has made vaccines available to 12-year-olds. -15.
“We can beat the current wave of coronavirus without restrictions,” Bennett said. “Vaccines instead of lockdowns, masks instead of restrictions. “
Nonetheless, he said the government would work to crack down on Israelis who visit countries banned on a so-called “red list” of places where there is a high risk of COVID-19 infection. Health officials blamed the recent spike in infections on travelers who brought new variants of the virus from overseas and failed to properly quarantine themselves after arrival.
Receive The Times of Israel daily edition via email and never miss our best stories Sign up for free
“We are working to completely ban flights to the Red Countries,” Bennett said. “It will be a violation of the law.
He noted that efforts were being made to close loopholes at Ben-Gurion International Airport that had previously allowed some returning travelers to pass through the terminus without being screened for infection.
“We are in the process of shutting this down,” Bennett said. “100% of people are checked, but there are still bugs that we fix and check. “
The Prime Minister appealed to parents who withhold immunization from their children, saying, “Delta disease can harm those who are not vaccinated, and it is children,” a reference to the variant of the virus that has been identified as the most common cause of recent infections.
Prime Minister Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the right and Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz on the left at a youth vaccination center in Holon on June 29, 2021 (Marc Israel Sellem / POOL / Flash90)
Bennett has set a goal of vaccinating 30,000 young people per day for the next 10 days.
“It’s ambitious but possible,” he said.
Bennett also noted that current vaccine supplies will pass their expiration date by the end of July and that three weeks are needed between the first and the last vaccine.
“So we still have ten days to administer the first vaccine,” he said. He noted that Sunday saw 18,000 people get vaccinated, the highest figure in months.
The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, together with the Ministry of Health, announced earlier today that eight Israeli citizens tried to board a flight to Russia , a country on the red list, without obtaining the required authorization for travel from a special PIBA committee. . The passengers, who were traveling with foreign passports, were stopped at the boarding gate and turned over to the police.
Although there is a fine of 5,000 shekels ($ 1,500) for Israelis traveling to the red countries without permission, passengers may not have to pay because they have not actually left the country. , the public broadcaster Kan reported.
Earlier this week, the health ministry introduced regulations requiring all Israelis leaving the country to sign a form declaring that they will not visit countries on the red list. Authorities were checking to see if the passengers signed the form, in which case they could be fined for making a false statement.
The countries where Israelis are currently banned from traveling, by order of the health ministry, are Argentina, Brazil, India, South Africa, Mexico and Russia.
With the increase in daily infections, there were 1,537 COVID-19 patients in the country, according to health ministry figures released on Tuesday. Among them, 21 are in serious condition.
The health ministry downgraded Tuesday morning two other localities that have seen an increase in infections under its system of “traffic lights” to classify municipalities according to the severity of morbidity.
Kfar Saba and the West Bank settlement of Zufim joined Binyamina and Kohav Yair as the red zones with the highest infection rates.
Modiin remained orange, while Herzliya, Tel Aviv, Ramle and Pardes Hanna were all yellow.
The Binyamina outbreak, the first major spread of the virus in Israel in recent months, apparently started with a student who came into contact with an infected person recently arrived from abroad.
The Delta variant of the virus, first identified in India, is more contagious than other variants and may be better able to bypass vaccines, but apparently does not cause serious infection. The transmissibility of the Delta variant from the original strain is around 40%, according to the UK Public Health Agency. The effectiveness of two doses of the vaccine for protection against hospitalization is 96%, according to the agency.
Since the outbreak of the virus in the country began last year, 841,319 cases of COVID-19 have been detected and 6,429 people have died from the disease.
Despite the apparent increase in Delta cases in Israel, severe cases and hospitalizations in the country have remained relatively stable.
Israel reimposed its indoor mask requirement on Friday. The health ministry has also called on Israelis to wear face coverings when participating in mass rallies outside, and urged people in at-risk or unvaccinated groups to avoid gatherings. Officials also reportedly weighed whether to recommend the wearing of masks outdoors as well as whether to impose restrictions on gatherings.
Previous waves of viral infections have seen restrictions introduced on public life and gathering, including periods of near total population lockdown.