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It’s baaaack? Israeli prime minister to convene 'consultations' as COVID infection rate creeps back up

While many restrictions have been dropped, officials concerned about slow down in decline of the virus here

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Mar. 14, 2022. (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Just when you thought the country could consider dropping the indoor mask mandate and other remaining restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, instead the government has scheduled consultations about increasing infections “in several places around the world.”

“Following the increase in infection rates, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will hold a consultation tomorrow (Wednesday, 16 March 2022) with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and senior Health Ministry officials,” read a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office sent out today.

The number of people hospitalized in serious condition (342) is currently at its lowest number in months as Israel comes off its fifth COVID wave that peaked in January and February. Daily infection numbers are still high in Israel relative to prior waves.

Yesterday 6,521 new cases were detected, a fraction of the recently set record of 80,000 in one day during the Omicron wave. Upwards of 2 million out of a population of 9.3 million Israelis were infected in just a month earlier this year.

At the time of those skyrocketing numbers, Israel dropped most of its restrictions including the infamous Green Passport and a ban on non-vaccinated foreigners.

Coronavirus czar Salman Zarka has expressed concern “that by next week the trend could reverse, and we could start to see a rise in seriously ill patients.”

Officials are concerned that the rate of decrease in infection rates has slowed. The “R number” – the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects –  is based on statistics from 10 days earlier and was 0.67 a month ago, but 0.91 on Tuesday morning, according to Health Ministry data.

Meanwhile, as infections spike in China and Hong Kong among other countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) offered little hope of a return to normalcy.

“Two years later, more than 6 million people have died,” said Tedros Adhanom, director-general of the WHO. “Although reported cases and deaths are declining globally, and several countries have lifted restrictions, the pandemic is far from over – and it will not be over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.”

Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.

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