Opening the weekly cabinet meeting with a call for the public to wear masks indoors and avoid overcrowding, Bennett said: “If we don’t cooperate and the extent of coronavirus morbidity continues to grow. increase, we will consider flipping some of the limitations of the Green Pass and convene the coronavirus cabinet to do so. “
The cabinet last met last week to discuss increased testing and enforcement at Israel’s borders, but added no major new restrictions after the reintroduction of the mask’s mandate. inside the previous week.
The Green Pass program, which ended on June 1, allowed people vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus to dine indoors at restaurants and attend cultural events.
Reports suggest authorities are considering reimplementing the program, among other things aimed at tackling infections, such as restrictions on gatherings.
Outgoing Health Ministry chief executive Chezy Levy said on Sunday that discussions were currently underway regarding reintroducing a series of additional restrictions.
Illustrative image: A woman shows off her green pass as she arrives to watch a theater at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem on February 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)
“We are seeing a more intense epidemic than last week,” he told the Ynet news site, saying the recently recorded increase in coronavirus infections and severe cases was “worrying to say the least”.
Figures from the Ministry of Health released Sunday morning showed 185 new cases of coronavirus had been confirmed the day before. While the number is down from the more than 300 recorded the last few days of last week, the weekend’s scaled-down tests typically bring back lower numbers on Sunday. The positivity rate remained at 0.5%, the same as it has been in recent days.
The new infections brought the number of active cases to 2,455, the highest since early April. This figure has increased tenfold since June 18.
The number of critically ill patients with complications from COVID-19 has slowly increased over the past week, reaching 35 on Sunday, from 26 a week earlier, but down significantly from nearly 1,200 in January at most the height of the pandemic in Israel, before the country’s large-scale vaccination campaign gained momentum.
The death toll, however, remains at 6,429, with just one death recorded in nearly three weeks.
Levy, who is expected to leave the health ministry at the end of the week and will be replaced in his role by coronavirus czar Nachman Ash, warned the numbers could continue to rise, even with Israel’s high vaccination rates.
“Even among the vaccinated there are infections, and we still have a lot of children and adolescents who are not vaccinated and can be infected,” he said. “We should be worried and see how to contain the situation before it gets out of hand. “
The Department of Health, which expects daily coronavirus diagnoses to drop to 500-600 this week, also said on Sunday that 21 localities were now defined as “yellow” under its “traffic lights” system. traffic ”to classify municipalities according to the severity of morbidity. That’s against just nine o’clock on Friday.
In the coastal city of Tel Aviv, which has been ‘yellow’ since the middle of last week, a mini outbreak has been attributed to a high school graduation party where one student infected 83 of his peers, reported the Twelfth Channel.
The channel also reported that the number of Israelis now confined to home quarantine due to contact with carriers of the virus currently stands at 59,967, almost double what it was two weeks ago.
Amid an increase in cases, the government has promoted immunizations for children and adolescents aged 12 to 15, with more than 100,000 injections given to this age group in recent weeks, according to the health ministry. .
Bennett called on young teens last week to get vaccinated to avoid restrictions and said, “We don’t want to put any limits – not on parties, not on travel, or anything. “
The health ministry said on Saturday that more than 100,000 people in Israel between the ages of 12 and 16 have now been vaccinated.
“This is an unprecedented achievement,” the ministry said in a statement, while reiterating its appeal to anyone over the age of 12 who wishes to be vaccinated.
According to the ministry, more than 5.62 million people – out of an Israeli population of more than 9.3 million – have received at least one injection of the vaccine. Of these, nearly 5.2 million received a second dose.
In a new report released on Saturday, however, experts at Hebrew University said without further restrictions, “we won’t see a slowdown and it looks like it will be difficult to avoid reaching 1,000 new infections per day. in two weeks. We emphasize that the effect of the masks is currently not visible. “
Experts have warned that any further government blocking “will require more serious action in the future to achieve the same effect.”
Experts also cautiously estimated that the vaccines are 60-80% effective in preventing contagion against the Delta variant, compared to 90% for the other strains, although they noted that the effectiveness of vaccination in the prevention of serious illness seemed to remain as high as before. valued.