Bennett Warns of “Painful Steps” if Covid Keeps Rising

YERUSHALAYIM -
Hospital personnel wearing safety gear as they work in the coronavirus ward of the Herzog Medical Center in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israeli government continued to edge toward additional restrictions on the public as the fourth wave of the coronavirus threatened national recovery on Monday.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has warned that serious Covid-19 cases could reach 1,600 by September if the present trend persists, according to Channel 12 news.

“We have our finger on the pulse all the time but it could be that we’ll need painful steps.

“We need to say honestly, hope is not a policy. At the moment we are persevering with the strategy we adopted and make decisions in accordance with the measure of the total serious cases, hospitalizations, people on ventilators, ECMO and others,” Bennett was quoted as saying.

Previously, health officials have warned of the possibility of a lockdown on Rosh Hashana if the infection rate is not contained, which is probably what Bennett meant by “painful steps.”

2,114 new cases were detected on Sunday, lower than the 2,400 on Friday, the highest number in this fourth wave.

On Monday, the number of new cases were back up to 2,441 of 6 p.m.

The number of patients in serious condition stood at 217, five more than the previous night. Of those, some 43 were on ventilators. In addition some ten people succumbed to the virus in 24 hours, the highest daily death toll since April.

The Health Ministry is reportedly getting ready to recommend a raft of measures at Tuesday’s coronavirus cabinet meeting. They are expected to include: broader implementation of the Green Pass, requiring masks at large outdoor events, restricting gatherings, and reducing the number of workers present at government offices by five percent.

With an eye on the external threat, the Health Ministry also wants to enlarge the list of “high risk” countries from which travelers to Israel are allowed entry but must quarantine for seven days, Ynet reported.

The list currently includes the UAE, Uganda, Seychelles, Guatemala, Honduras, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Liberia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Namibia, Fiji, Panama, Paraguay, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cambodia and Kenya.

Additionally, there are 14 countries from which travel to Israel — even for fully vaccinated Israelis — is banned: UK, Spain, Turkey, Russia, India, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Cyprus.