3,011 New Virus Cases; Positivity Rate Drops to 6.2%

YERUSHALAYIM -
Health care workers take test samples of Israelis in a complex to check if they have been infected with the coronavirus in a mobile testing station, in Yerushalayim. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry reported Friday morning that 3,011 new coronavirus cases were recorded over the last 24 hours.

The ministry noted that 49,867 screening tests had been carried out, with a positivity rate of 6.2%.

858 patients are currently listed in serious condition.

At least 5,521 Israelis have died since the start of the pandemic last March.

Israel has vaccinated 4,225,662 citizens with the first dose of vaccine and 2,852,412 with both doses.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that Israel will not force any of its citizens to be vaccinated nor would it penalize members of the public who refuse to be inoculated.

The country, however, has recently instituted its long-awaited “green passport” program, which allows vaccinated citizens or those who have recovered from the coronavirus to have access to travel, leisure, and cultural events without restriction.

The ministry warned that severe legal penalties will be meted out for those who attempt to obtain forged documentation attesting that they have received the injections.

Health Ministry Director General Prof. Chezi Levy said Thursday that “we met today with senior police officials to discuss uncompromising enforcement and punishment, both for those forging the green passport and those using [the forged document].

“Whoever thinks this is a child’s play and get [sic] himself a certificate despite not getting vaccinated will be caught and will end up in jail,” he said.

Levy also added that people who have recovered from coronavirus will also be eligible to receive the vaccine. He added that the ministry has yet to decide whether to give one or two doses to COVID convalescents.

Edelstein said that “soon there will be workplaces where people who work face-to-face with customers on a regular basis will have to be vaccinated or undergo tests every 48 hours.

“The vaccines are a national mission of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, there are people who lack a moral compass and repeatedly attack the inoculation drive and spread fake news,” Edelstein said. “They make up stories to sow doubt and prevent people, the citizens of Israel, from coming to get vaccinated.

Edelstein asked Israelis who have received both vaccine doses to continue wearing face masks in public.

“We will open events that will be attended by hundreds of people. We want to see event halls, shuls and other events where everyone is wearing a mask,” the minister said. “There is no other way to safeguard our health. Anyone who wants professional explanations will be able to get them from their doctor.”