COVID-19: Israel can defeat this outbreak in 5 weeks - Bennett

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett adresses the nation at a press conference regarding the coronavirus pandemic, July 14, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

*Israel registers over 750 cases for second day in a row, serious morbidity slightly increases. * Cabinet meeting on Tuesday ends with no new restrictions.

With the cooperation of the public, the country can defeat the current outbreak in five weeks without the need for new lockdowns, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a joint press conference with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz on Wednesday, as Israel registered over 750 cases for the second day in a row.
“The Delta variant is overwhelming the world,” Bennett said, asking Israelis to take the situation seriously.
The prime minister stressed that the government is committed to protect public health with minimum disruption of daily life, but that in order to avoid severe restrictions, everyone needs to show personal responsibility, get vaccinated, wear a mask indoors and maintain social distance practices, such as avoiding shaking hands.
“It might be that very soon people who can get vaccinated and have chosen not to will not be able to access certain venues without a negative corona test,” he noted.
Horowitz said that the Health Ministry is working so that rapid corona tests will be widely available at a cheap price. Rapid tests, also known as antigen tests, are considered slightly less accurate than PCR tests, but they offer results very quickly and are easier to perform. In addition, the government is working on allowing private corona tests.
Bennett asked Israelis not to fly abroad, warning that even countries where the morbidity is now low will soon feel the impact of the new variant.
In addition, he announced that the enforcement of mandatory masks and quarantine requirements will be dramatically stepped up.
On Tuesday night, the cabinet decided to shorten the isolation period from a minimum of 10 days to a minimum of seven days with two negative PCR tests, to encourage the public to comply with the rules. In addition, responsibility for enforcement of coronavirus regulations was transferred to the Public Security Ministry.
The meeting ended with no decision about reopening the borders to vaccinated tourists from August 1, although Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov presented an outline for this purpose.
On Wednesday, Razvozov visited the airport, where he vowed to continue working in order to allow tourists to enter the country, while he admitted that some of the necessary infrastructure – like a facility performing rapid serological testing – does not yet exist.
Some 754 new cases were identified on Tuesday, with 1.45% of the 59,000 tests returning a positive result – the highest since March.
Serious morbidity also increased slightly: some 53 patients were in serious conditions on Wednesday, eight more than on Tuesday. However, the number remains limited compared to previous waves. In April, with a similar number of active cases – some 5,000 – there were over 300 patients in serious conditions.
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