Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Healthcare worker takes a test samples of a child in a drive-through complex in Jerusalem, December 21, 2021.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday night instructed the Health Minister and the HMOs to prepare for a fourth Corona vaccination campaign for people 60 and older, the immunosuppressants, and healthcare workers – four months after they received the third dose. The move was recommended by the epidemiologists at the Health Ministry and the final decision will be made by the ministry’s director-general, Prof. Nachman Ash.

Bennett welcomed the epidemiologists’ recommendation, saying it was “wonderful news that will help us get through the wave of Omicron that’s sweeping the world. Don’t waste time – get vaccinated.” He added that “Israeli citizens were the first in the world to receive the third vaccination, and we continue to lead with the fourth round.”

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Kan 11 News reported Tuesday night about a possible outbreak in nursing homes after 50 staff members and 20 residents became infected in the last two weeks.

The first Israeli died from the Omicron variant on Monday. The man, 75, was a patient in the coronavirus unit at Be’er Sheva’s Soroka Medical Center (Israel Records First Omicron Death).

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said Tuesday night: “Our priorities toward the Omicron are protecting the elderly who are the most vulnerable group, and the medical staff. There’s no need to wait, go get vaccinated. It is the most effective measure against the corona.”

The decision to give the third vaccination, the booster, was made at the end of July, but the Health Ministry’s professionals were presented with findings on a decrease in the effectiveness of the third dose in preventing infection. Following these findings, most staff members supported the administration of a fourth vaccine dose to the risk groups.

The ministerial committee on fighting the coronavirus (the Corona Cabinet) on Tuesday night decided on the following restrictions:

MALLS AND COMMERCIAL FACILITIES

  • Malls will operate on the Purple Badge format, according to the occupancy ratio of 1:15 (one person per 15 square meters)
  • Entry to stores larger than 100 square meters – both in open facilities and in malls and closed shopping facilities – will be allowed subject to the presentation of a Green Pass. The Green Pass requirement will also apply to the employees of these stores
  • Food stalls in malls will provide takeaway service only to customers upon presentation of a Green Pass
  • Entry to restaurants inside malls will be upon presentation of a Green Pass, according to the current format for restaurants
  • The Green Pass in malls and commercial facilities will not apply to places that provide essential services, which will continue to operate according to the current format (Purple Badge, occupancy ratio of 1:7).

THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

  • Grades 1-12 in red and orange communities – only classes in which at least 70% of pupils have received the first dose of the vaccine – will have frontal learning. Classes in which less than 70% of pupils have been vaccinated will learn online
  • This decision will apply to middle schools and high schools (grades 7-12) effective immediately and in primary schools (grades 1-6) in three weeks. Until then, primary schools will enact a policy of reducing contacts
  • In green and yellow communities, the education system will continue as normal, subject to the “Magen Chinuch” and Green Classroom plans
  • The decisions will take effect following approval of the relevant regulations and are subject to approval by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and the Knesset Education Committee

IT WAS ALSO DECIDED:

  • During January, state financing for antigen tests for children for the Green Pass will cease. (The state will continue to finance antigen tests for the immuno-compromised of all ages)
  • It will be possible to receive a Green Pass for up to one month following inoculation with the first dose, in order to enter the education system and facilities to which the Green Pass applies but not to receive an exemption from quarantine. This decision will take effect following the completion of the necessary adjustments to Health Ministry computers
  • PCR sampling will be carried out twice a week for workers without Green Passes in the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs external frameworks including institutions for the elderly, people with disabilities, children and youth frameworks, etc.
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David writes news at JewishPress.com.