Health Ministry: Even After Vaccination, Keep Face Masks On

YERUSHALAYIM -
People wearing face masks in the Old City. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israelis yearning for normalcy as the vaccination campaign approaches completion were disappointed to hear from the Health Ministry on Thursday that life won’t return to normal quite so soon.

Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy said that masking must continue until further notice, as “even vaccinated individuals can be a source of coronavirus that will pass to those around him if they are maskless or unvaccinated, and certainly our children up to 16 who are not vaccinated,” The Times of Israel reported.

The restriction remains in place despite data proving the efficacy of masks. Experts in applied fluid dynamics at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering told AP in December that face masks reduce the risk of spreading large COVID-laden droplets when speaking or coughing by up to 99.9 percent.

Levy also told reporters vaccinating children 12 and up against the coronavirus can begin “around May-June,” though the timetable will depend on clinical trials being conducted by vaccine-makers, which he hopes “will be over around the end of spring, or beginning of summer.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s COVID-19 test positivity rate reached its lowest point in almost three months on Thursday.

Only 2.9 percent of coronavirus test results that returned Wednesday were positive, the lowest figure since December 13, according to official figures.

2,802 cases were confirmed Wednesday, bringing the country’s total to 812,823. Out of 36,712 active cases, 645 were in serious condition, including 259 on ventilators and 211 classified as critical. The death toll climbed to 5,955.

At least 5,072,725 Israelis have been vaccinated, of whom almost 4 million — 3,999,353 — have received both doses of the Pfizer inoculation.