Covid19 : Israel tightens restrictions as cases surge
New restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid took effect in Israel on Wednesday, after the largely vaccinated country saw the highest daily infection rate since January. The measures, announced Sunday, require vaccination certificates or negative coronavirus tests to enter a range of public spaces, including restaurants and bars, cultural and sports venues, hotels and gyms, the health ministry said. The same applies to worshippers wishing to enter synagogues, mosques or churches with more than 50 people in attendance.
In recent weeks, the state has begun administering booster shots to Israelis aged 50 and over, while urging anyone aged 12 and older to get vaccinated. About one million Israelis have not been vaccinated even though they are eligible. According to the health ministry, more than 8,700 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest number for a single day since January. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been imploring Israelis to get vaccinated, warning of a possible lockdown that could affect the Jewish high holidays next month unless inoculation numbers rise.
Israeli Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz – “We’re in a race against the pandemic.” His message was meant for his fellow Israelis, but it is a warning to the world. Israel has among the world’s highest levels of vaccination for COVID-19, with 78% of those 12 and older fully vaccinated, the vast majority with the Pfizer vaccine.
As of Monday, nearly 1 million Israelis had received a third dose, according to the Ministry of Health. Global health leaders including Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, have pleaded with developed countries not to administer boosters given that most of the world’s population hasn’t received even a single dose. The wealthy nations pondering or already administering booster vaccines so far mostly reserve them for special populations such as the immune compromised and health care workers.