PM warns Israel in 5th COVID-19 wave

Dec 20, 2021

Jerusalem (Israel), December 20: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that the Omicron COVID-19 variant has caused the fifth wave of the pandemic in the country, and his cabinet was mulling new restrictions.
"The fifth wave has begun," Bennett told a televised press conference, adding that new restrictions are expected to be issued in the next few days.
Bennett urged people to work from home if possible and called on citizens to get vaccinated, especially for children.
"Do not leave children exposed and vulnerable," he said, adding that child vaccination rates in rural areas are as low as 3-5 percent.
Israel on Sunday banned travel to 10 more countries to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant. The ban will take effect on Wednesday and will include the United States, Canada, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, Germany, Hungary, Morocco and Belgium.
All Israelis returning from the banned countries, including vaccinated and recovered ones, must enter quarantine for at least seven days.
Israel largely closed its international borders in the wake of the first report of the Omicron variant. The current list of "red" countries already includes most of the African countries, eight European countries and the United Arab Emirates.
Also on Sunday, the Health Ministry announced 40 more Omicron cases, bringing the number of confirmed cases in Israel to 175.
Avoiding imposing lockdowns, the government has been focused on the vaccination campaign and the Green Pass scheme that allows entry for several public venues only to fully vaccinated people.
Israel rolled out a large-scale vaccination campaign, with more than 4.1 million of the country's 9.3 million people having received the third booster shot.
The country has recorded 8,232 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Source: Xinhua