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Israel to bring back indoor mask mandate from Sunday, health official says

·2-min read
Israelis are also being advised against foreign travel (AFP via Getty Images)
Israelis are also being advised against foreign travel (AFP via Getty Images)

Israel will reintroduce its indoor mask mandate from Sunday due to an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country, a senior health official has said.

The mandate was initially lifted 15 June but will be reintroduced due to a rapid increase in Covid case numbers, thought to be due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Israel’s Health Ministry revealed on Thursday that the daily number of new Covid-19 cases has surpassed 100 for the third day in a row, with 169 people testing positive for coronavirus on Thursday alone. This marked the highest daily tally in months.

Professor Nachman Ash explained at a press briefing on Thursday evening that the country’s mask mandate would be reintroduced from Sunday.

There has been a rapid increase in cases in Kfar Saba, Ramla, Herzliya as well as mass outbreaks in two schools in Binyamina and Modi’in last week.

As well as reintroducing the mask mandate, Prof Ash went on to advise people against travelling abroad.

He said: “I call on the public to consider whether travelling abroad is essential. It is highly advisable to avoid non-essential travel abroad.”

Adding: “This is not the right time to fly with children who are not vaccinated.”

He went on to urge those who have been in contact with someone who has later tested positive for coronavirus, to get tested, adding that even those who are fully vaccinated should get a test.

Although a majority of adults in Israel have been vaccinated, according to Prof Ash the numbers are still far from the 80 per cent figure needed for herd immunity.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Health Ministry’s Public Health Director Dr Sharon Alroy-Preis, said that there was always a plan to reintroduce masks in confined spaces, should the country report a daily average of 100 cases over one week, reported Ynet news.

She added: “We were always ready for it, we kept saying ‘the pandemic is not behind us’. We keep monitoring, checking, closing borders and doing everything because this thing can come back.”

On Monday, the Health Ministry said it would begin a greater push to vaccinate teenagers, particularly those in the 12 to 15 age group.

Currently, the uptake of Covid vaccines among teenagers has remained low, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett encouraging Israel’s teens to book their appointments.

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