Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a special message to the nation on Sunday evening that the fifth coronavirus is already upon the country and that adults and children must be vaccinated without delay.
He did not, however, announce any additional restrictions to stem the virus.
“I believe within three to four weeks, perhaps sooner, we will see a jump in morbidity that will leave no room for doubt,” Bennett said.
“Vaccines for children are safe, and they are the responsibility of parents,” he says. “Don’t leave your children vulnerable to Omicron.
“Every hour you wait is a wasted hour. After a first shot it will take children four to five weeks to be protected. If you wait for the wave to hit, it will be too late.”
He also urges business owners who can have employees work from home to do so.
Bennett asserted that the decision in November to bar entry into Israel to nearly all foreign nationals was a “bold, brave” move which “bought all of us much-needed time.
“But not everyone understood that in real-time. There were some people who thought we were exaggerating.”
“I’m happy that my peers in the government understood that we need to buy time and keep the [Omicron] variant away from Israel as long as possible.”
But, Bennett continued, “The time we bought is now running out. The Omicron variant is already in Israel – from kindergartens to the Knesset. And it is spreading fast.”
“The numbers still aren’t high, but this is an extremely transmissible variant with a reproductive rate that has it doubling every two to three days.”
“We can say that the fifth wave is starting.”
“I’m not saying this to frighten or to create panic. We’ve passed that stage already. We’ve learned from our experiences in the four previous waves,” Bennett said.