Bennett urges Israelis to wear masks amid new wave of COVID
at least 175 Omicron cases have been confirmed in Israel, including 40 on December 19 alone
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on December 19 that the highly infectious Omicron variant is driving Israel’s fifth wave of coronavirus infections, and urged the public to preempt an expected surge in morbidity by vaccinating children and curbing gatherings, including working from home if possible, Qazet.az informs referring to The Times of Israel.
At a live press briefing from his office in Jerusalem timed for the start of Israel’s prime-time television news broadcasts, Bennett said the government is doing everything to buy the country time before the Omicron variant becomes widespread.
So far, at least 175 Omicron cases have been confirmed in Israel, including 40 on December 19 alone.
“I believe within three to four weeks, perhaps sooner, we will see a jump in morbidity that will leave no room for doubt” over the severity of the outbreak, he said.
During this time, it is crucial to vaccinate as many people as possible, particularly children, Bennett argued.
“Vaccines for children are safe, and they are the responsibility of parents,” he said. “Don’t leave your children vulnerable to Omicron.”
“The goal is to get through the wave while keeping the economy and education working — and the goal is to vaccinate the children of Israel,” Bennett said.
“Every hour you wait is a wasted hour. After the 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 warned.
The prime minister also urged business owners who can have employees work from home do so, in order to reduce public interactions, saying that the same measure would be taken in the public sector. He called for diligence in wearing face masks and avoiding public gatherings.
Bennett said the government would introduce additional restrictions due to lingering uncertainty on how effective vaccines are against Omicron, though he did not specify what he has planned.
In addition, Bennett wants to expand the so-called Green Pass system — which limits entry to various public places to only those who were vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 in the previous six months, or have taken a recent negative test — to include malls and larger street stores, the report said.