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Delta variant surge threatens Israel’s return to normal

(Bloomberg) – Israel reinstated the use of face masks and postponed reopening its borders to foreign tourists, following an increase in infections related to the highly transmissible delta variant.

“The decision was made that once we had more than 100 new cases on average per week, we would re-establish the use of the masks in closed spaces,” said the head of public health, Sharon Alroy-Preis, according to the Ynet website. . “I imagine this will happen as early as Sunday given the rapid trend we are seeing.” The mask use measure was removed earlier this month.

In mid-June, new cases were down to single digits, but this week they topped 100 for three days in a row. Most of the new cases have been in unvaccinated children and people returning from abroad. Some of the patients had been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

While the delta variant, first reported in India, is the most contagious to date, nearly all cases in Israel have been asymptomatic or mild, and the number of critically ill patients has remained at around two dozen. The businesses have remained open.

On Wednesday night, Israel postponed reopening its borders to foreign tourism until August 1, a month later than planned.

“We have decided to treat this as a new outbreak. We intend to stop it, take a bucket of water and put out the flames while they are still small, “Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday at the national airport, who throughout the pandemic has been a vector of the disease.

Measures the government took this week include stricter quarantine regulations, more daily tests and a 5,000 shekel (US $ 1,535) fine for parents whose children fail to quarantine. The use of masks has already been re-imposed at airports, border crossings and medical facilities.

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Bennett’s swift action shows that Israel learned its lesson from the devastating reopening of its economy after its first lockdown, under then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The reduction in the number of cases relaxed precautionary measures, causing infections to skyrocket to more than 11,000 per day. Subsequently, the country managed to control the pandemic, but not without first imposing a series of quarantines and implementing the most aggressive vaccination campaign against the virus.

Original Note: Israel’s Return to Normal Hits Bump With Virus Surge (1)

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