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Israeli Health Ministry recommends indoor masking, refrains from calling for fifth shot

Cases on the rise again in Israel prompting cautious approach – but no new mandates – from Health Ministry

Israeli wears a face mask at the Malha Mall in Jerusalem in Jerusalem, July 29, 2020. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel's COVID-19 pandemic advisory committee last week refrained from pushing for a fifth shot of the vaccine, but instead recommended the use of masks in enclosed spaces and especially in gatherings – a decision backed by the Health Ministry in a public announcement on Monday. 

“It was not recommended to give another dose of the vaccine, but it was decided to continue discussing the issue,” the Health Ministry said in a statement. “On the other hand, it is important to ensure anyone eligible for a fourth dose receives it.”

The ministry noted that three shots is considered fully vaccinated, even for children above the age of five. 

“In recent days, there has been a very sharp increase in the number of verified coronavirus cases in Israel, and with it, there has also been a jump in serious illness. We want to maintain routine – but also health,” the ministry said Monday. 

“We ask you to make sure to wear a mask in closed spaces, not because it is obligatory, but because it is an act of solidarity and caring for others,” the ministry continued, citing studies that show that proper and consistent masking can reduce the risk of infection by up to 50%.

The recommendation came as the reproduction number (“R”) hit a three-month high and new daily cases spiked to over 7,000 on Tuesday.

“We need to move from government responsibility [for COVID] to individual responsibility,” coronavirus czar Prof. Salman Zarka said last week at the Medicine 2042 conference. “Everyone can decide on his own risk and behavior.”

Maayan Hoffman is a veteran American-Israeli journalist and strategic communications consultant. She is Deputy CEO - Strategy & Innovation for the Jerusalem Post, where she also served as news editor, head of strategy and senior health analyst.

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