COVID: Cabinet meets on new measures as Israel registers 501 new cases

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The coronavirus cabinet met on Tuesday evening to discuss the current outbreak and new measures to counter it, as the previous day Israel registered 501 new cases, marking the highest number recorded since March.

According to Israeli media, among the measures that the ministers were expected to discuss was to require parents of an infected child to quarantine, even if they are vaccinated, as well as to bring back rapid testing to access events with 100 children and more or nursing homes for the elderly.

In addition, health officials will recommend demanding an additional test for all those entering Israel from abroad after four days, as well as expanding the list of countries from where incoming travelers are required to quarantine even if they are inoculated or recovered.

The list currently includes only a limited number of nations under travel ban: Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa. If the recommendation will be accepted, the number of countries would increase significantly to include all those which at the moment are under travel warning – which has no practical consequences for travelers – such as the United Arab Emirates and Colombia.

The government is also expected to step up enforcement against those who fail to wear their masks in closed public spaces.

In a tweet earlier in the day, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that they do not intend to impose limits on weddings or to cultural events.

Some 72,000 tests were processed on Monday – also the highest in about three months – and 0.7% of them returned a positive result, for a total of 501 cases. As of 6 p.m. on Tuesday, some another 367 new cases had been identified.

The country currently has some 3,100 cases, compared than less than 200 a few weeks ago.

At the same time, since the beginning of the new outbreak, the increase in serious morbidity has been minimal. On Tuesday night, the number of serious patients stood at 38 – in the past few days, the figure has been floating between 31 and 35. At its lowest in mid-June, it stood at 21. In April, with a similar number of active cases in the country, Israel had over 100 such patients, and at the peak of the pandemic in January there were more than 1,200.

Moreover, since June 13, only one patient has succumbed to the virus.

At the peak of the pandemic, thousands of new cases and dozens of new victims were registered every day, and the total number of active cases stood at over 88,000.

Nonetheless, the current number of new virus carriers mark a significant increase compared to the 10-20 new cases identified daily at the beginning of June.

In addition, over 40% among those infected in the past few weeks were already fully vaccinated.

According to data released by the Health Ministry on Monday, the Pfizer vaccine has proven to be only 64% effective in preventing symptomatic infection in the past month while remaining highly effective – 93% against serious symptoms. Moreover, some 1,300 of the current virus carriers are schoolchildren.

Both fully inoculated individuals and children are unlikely to develop serious symptoms, which could help explain the low number of patients in serious conditions.

Speaking to a conference at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in the morning, Nitzan Horowitz stressed that the government’s approach aims at offering the maximum level of protection with the lowest level of disruption to daily life, without creating unnecessary panic.

“We understand that the corona will not disappear soon,” Horowitz said, according to channel 12. “We will have to learn to live alongside COVID, as we live alongside diseases and other viruses.”

“The policy I seek to lead is one that looks ahead, not in a week or in a month, but a year ahead,” he added. “Tonight in the meeting of the coronavirus cabinet we will recommend taking measures in this spirit, steps that will protect us from serious illness, that will harm our daily routine as little as possible, and that we can live with for a long time.”





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