Top Health Official Says Remaining Restrictions could Be Scrapped Soon

On Thursday, the Director-General of the Israeli Health Ministry said that they do not plan on imposing new coronavirus restrictions and the measures that are still in place could also be scrapped soon. Asked about whether they were planning on ending the quarantine and face masks requirements, the chief of the Health Ministry said that they were moving in that direction, even though they hadn’t reached there as yet. He said that they had no intention of introducing testing at schools once more, so things are going to continue in the same way for now. 

He added that for the time being, the requirement of face masks in closed indoor spaces would remain in effect. He said that they would consider lifting this in the future, but the number of daily cases was still over 10,000. He went on to say that while the numbers remained high, their goal was to ensure that morbidity does not rise at the same pace. Ash also stated that they don’t intend on imposing any special restrictions for the upcoming Passover holiday in April, which makes it the first time that the festivities would take place without any COVID-19 restrictions in the last two years. 

The comments from Ash came when Israel is still seeing a rise in the number of daily cases, along with the transmission rate. However, the number of people hospitalized due to serious cases have remained steady and have even shown a renewed decline. The latest data from the Health Ministry showed that the ‘R’ number, which is also called the reproduction number, has declined to 1.09. A reading below one indicates that the virus is spreading. It had gone below 1 during late January and February, but began climbing again in early March before it dipped once more recently. 

On Wednesday, there were 70,771 people who were tested for COVID-19 and 12,093 people got a positive result, which is about 17.09%. The Health Ministry data indicated that the total number of active cases in the country was about 74,025 and there were 265 people who were in serious condition. This included 102 people who had been put on respirators and 124 who were critical. The total death toll in the country has climbed to 10,485. The BA.2 variant, which is considered a sub-variant of Omicron, has been partly held responsible for contributing to the rise in cases in Israel. 

On Thursday, the Health Ministry also announced that it was cutting down the price of PCR tests at the Ben Gurion Airport for passengers. The cost of a test booked before arrival would be charged NIS 63.20, while one without a booking would be charged NIS 79. The results of the test would be given in 13 hours. As per the existing rules, those who land in Israel have to isolate until they get a negative test result. After two years of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a bounce back has seen the Ben Gurion Airport overwhelmed by the number of people traveling abroad. 

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