Israel is due to conduct the world’s first national Covid exercise to test the country’s preparedness for an outbreak of a deadly new variant of the virus.
The exercise, scheduled for Thursday, will take the form of a war games exercise and will be led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
It will test the capacities of government departments and national agencies to respond to the emergence of an “Omega” variant of Covid-19.
A statement from the Israeli government press office said that no such variant had yet been discovered in the country.
Israel had beaten a fourth wave of Covid and “we are on track to get out of the Delta variant,” Bennett said.
However, he added, the battle against the virus continued. “We continue to organize exercises and question ourselves… We must continue to monitor the situation closely and prepare for any scenario. “
The exercise will be led by the Israeli Minister of Civil Defense at the Jerusalem National Management Center, which manages national crises.
It will cover:
- Restrictions on gatherings and travel, quarantine policy, closures, curfews and tourism.
- Surveillance and warnings issued during the development of a new dangerous variant, vaccine protection tests, epidemiological investigations, hospital capacity and execution of mass testing and vaccination programs.
- The legality of local or regional closures, curfews, and other restrictions.
- Economic support for the population.
- Public security in the application of quarantine, closures and curfews.
- Closure of schools in epidemic centers, reduction of class sizes and distance learning.
- Departure and arrival policy at borders including Ben Gurion airport.
- Inform the public and respond to “internet talk”.
Israel’s health ministry reported 475 new cases of Covid on Wednesday. Experts have warned that another wave or variant could surface in the coming months.
More than four in ten people have received a booster dose. The government is due to decide this week whether to immunize children between the ages of 5 and 11.
Israel regularly organizes national security exercises for its people as well as military war games in preparation for conflict.