Coronavirus chief Salman Zarqa on Wednesday urged the public to wear masks while indoors and said officials would meet the next day to consider reinstating the need as the number of new virus cases continues to rise.
During a video press briefing, Zarqa said that the growing number of critically ill COVID-19 patients has made it important to wear masks indoors, emphasizing the need to protect the elderly and at-risk population.
Israel has recently seen an outbreak of COVID-19 infection, with more than 12,000 cases per day and more than 370 serious cases tripled.
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Zarqa said that if the number of critically ill and hospitalized patients continues to rise, wearing mandatory masks in confined spaces needs to be reinstated. He said officials would discuss the matter in the coming days.
Zarqa, however, noted that, in her professional opinion, masks should already be mandatory indoors.
Israel abolished the requirement to wear a mask indoors in April 2021 after making it mandatory for almost two years except for a two-week period.
Zarka said the sixth wave is driven by a variant of Omicron.
“This form is more contagious; It is highly contagious, ”said Zarqa.
Since more than 90% of those hospitalized in Covid are over the age of 60, he said people of that age must “wear masks” in confined settings. He urged the general public to be cautious when meeting with the elderly and advised to test antigens before making such visits.
A new, highly contagious variant has recently been identified in India, said Zarqa, who requested people returning from abroad to have their PCR tested. He said the ministry specifically asked Assad to undergo a PCR test on his return from India or Africa, although the ministry had canceled mandatory tests for travelers in May.
In a similar vein, the Department of Health said its chief executive, Nachman Ash, supported the recommendation of an expert panel to make the vaccine available to children aged 6 months to 5 years. Currently, vaccines are only given to children 5 years of age or older.
Israel must now collect doses of the covid vaccine specifically designed for young children. The exact date of the deployment of the vaccination campaign in Israel will depend on the arrival of these doses, which are expected in the coming weeks.
The announcement comes a day after a letter was leaked to the media, in which Ash endorsed immunization of 6-month-olds, but did not explicitly support the panel’s opinion that vaccines should be recommended for infants and young children. High risk.
Wednesday’s statement, however, reflects that support
“This vaccine is especially recommended for children who are at high risk of serious illness from coronavirus due to the underlying chronic condition or who have a weakened immune system,” the statement said.
The ministry noted that the approval came after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had already approved the Pfizer and Modern vaccines and after two expert panel meetings where the vaccines were safe and effective for children in a comprehensive analysis.
Figures released by the health ministry on Tuesday show that 13,901 new cases of the virus were identified a day earlier, the highest number in a single day since February 17. The number of critically ill patients was 376, down from just 91 a month earlier.
Of the 49,641 tests taken at the test center on Tuesday, 30.01% were positive. Since the start of the epidemic, 10,984 people have died in COVID-19 in Israel.
Israel has made mass immunization a key strategy to deal with the epidemic. As of Monday, out of a total population of about 9.5 million, 6,712,696 had received at least one dose and 6,145,742 had received two doses. There were 4,502,191 people who received the third dose and 830,694 who received the fourth dose.