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New COVID Restrictions in Effect in Israel amid Surge of New Cases

August 9, 2021

by: Janet Aslin

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Israelis shopping at the shuk (outdoor market) during the pandemic

Monday, 9 August 2021 | In the battle against rapidly increasing COVID infections, Israel’s government approved a decision to expand restrictions under the Green Pass system. Effective yesterday, public events of any size may only be attended by those who have been vaccinated, recovered from the virus or can present a negative COVID test. This restriction applies to both indoor and outdoor gatherings.

The new statistics are sobering. A Monday morning update from the Ministry of Health showed 360 serious cases, up from 257 on Thursday, August 5. Sixteen people died over the weekend, and 57 are currently on ventilators. There were 3,372 new cases yesterday for a positive test rate of 3.87%.

In response to the increased regulations, Magen David Adom, Israel’s ambulance service, has opened 120 rapid testing sites across the country. Unvaccinated Israelis can get results of a COVID test in 15 minutes and will be able to attend events if the test is negative. As of August 20, children under 12 will also need to present a negative test result.

The Green Pass restrictions apply to public gatherings, hotels, restaurants and gyms. Gatherings of fewer than 50 people in houses of worship are exempt from the new restrictions.

The coronavirus cabinet, Health Ministry officials and government continue to weigh the possibility of additional restrictions, including the controversial idea of a lockdown during the holidays in September.

The coronavirus cabinet is also keeping an eye on the pandemic around the world and added six countries to the banned list on Sunday evening. Israelis are forbidden to travel to these countries unless they apply for a special permission from the Exemption Committee.

All incoming travelers, vaccinated or not, are now required to undergo a mandatory seven-day quarantine unless they are returning from one of the eight “low risk” countries which are Hong Kong, Hungary, Taiwan, Moldova, New Zealand, China, Singapore and the Czech Republic.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett continues to encourage Israelis to get vaccinated and Israel’s over-60 population to receive a booster shot. According to the ministry of health, over 5.4 million Israelis have received both vaccine shots and 420,000 have gotten the booster shot.

One bright spot on the horizon are the results of a new Israeli drug, which was developed at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv. Phase II testing has just been completed with 93% of the seriously ill coronavirus patients being discharged in five days or less. The Phase II testing was done in Athens, as Israel did not have enough seriously ill patients at the time.

Phase III testing will be done in Israel with 155 patients, one-third of whom will receive a placebo. Researchers hope to complete this round of testing by the end of the year. If the final phase of testing confirms the previous results, researchers say the treatment can be made quickly and at a relatively low cost.

Posted on August 9, 2021

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 9, 2021)

Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com

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