Photo Credit: GPO / YouTube screen grab
Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is recommending a return to wearing indoor masks as the sixth wave of COVID-19 continues to escalate.

Horowitz met with Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem for an assessment on the coronavirus pandemic and the current wave of morbidity.

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Also attending the discussion were Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister’s Office Director General Naama Schultz, Health Ministry Director General Prof. Nachman Ash, Public Health Service Director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, national coronavirus project manager Prof. Salman Zarka, Defense Ministry Coronavirus Director Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Edry, National Security Council Deputy Director Eitan Ben-David and additional professional officials.

“We are coming into the peak global tourism season at all airports, in Israel as well. This will affect the rate of spread. From this perspective, maintaining the level of readiness is critical. We are closely monitoring events.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Health Ministry for having turned into a sophisticated system,” Lapid added.

“We are currently seeing a recurrent rise in morbidity,” Horwitz noted in his statement to reporters.

“We are not letting our guard down and are on constant alert.

“To continue maintaining a full daily routine, I call on the public to act responsibly, to be tested and to keep the rules for quarantine where necessary.

“We recommend – especially for groups at risk – to wear masks in closed places,” Horowitz emphasized.

Health Ministry experts recommended the following to Lapid and Horowitz at their meeting:

  • Monitoring and managing the coronavirus as per the increase in morbidity
  • Continuing to maintain the system according to the principle of dynamic readiness (activation and reinforcement according to assessments of the situation)
  • Continuing to maintain stocks of medicines and acquisitions as per Health Ministry recommendations.

There has been a significant increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past week, with the Health Ministry reporting that out of 193,000 Israelis who were tested in the past seven days, 74,000 were found to be infected with the virus with a positivity rate of 42.46 percent. A total of 425 were listed in serious condition, and 29 people died.

Although the daily numbers are still rising with 9,416 new cases diagnosed in the past 24 hours, the “R” number that indicates whether the spread is on the rise or waning, now stands at 1.07 and is slowly decreasing. Anything over 1.0 still indicates the virus is spreading, but the decrease indicates that Israel may be over the peak of this wave.

A fourth inoculation has been available for some time for Israelis over age 60, but now appears to be available for others as well.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.