ISRAEL is on the brink of lockdown just a month after scrapping face masks and social distancing rules.
With the Delta variant continuing to spread across the country, many fear that Israel will be thrown back into lockdown to curb the virus.
Men at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, amid a spread of the Delta variantCredit: Reuters
Naftali Bennett, the prime minister, told the country: “We can beat coronavirus in five weeks — it’s just up to us.”
Despite Israel’s advanced vaccination campaign, Bennett has called on Israelis to wear masks in closed public places once more and to avoid travel.
Two weeks after the legal requirement to wear a mask was dropped, it was reimposed – and now the state is going ahead with a “soft suppression” policy to battle the growing Covid cases.
Calling on kids aged 12 to 16 to get vaccinated, he said: “The vaccine is not sufficient to fight against the Delta variant.
“We need the co-operation of citizens to defeat the coronavirus without having to impose a new lockdown.”
In Israel, 855 new cases were reported on Thursday – the highest number since March 22.
ON THE EDGE
And hospital cases have gone up in the country – forcing the government to act amid growing concerns that the vaccine may not be as effective against the Covid mutation.
This comes as Brits are set to fully unlock for the final step in Boris Johnson’s roadmap to freedom.
But travellers from France will still have to quarantine – despite being jabbed – and some services, including public transport, have asked customers to continue to wear masks.
Meanwhile, nightclubs will throw open their doors at midnight on Sunday – for the first time since March 2020.
The PM announced that the big day could go ahead as planned, despite soaring infections in the UK.
But in a speech, he urged people to stay wary – as Covid is a “continuing menace”.
“I wish I could say that from Monday we could simply throw caution to the winds and behave exactly as we did before we’d ever heard of Covid,” he said.
“But what I can say is that if we are careful and if we continue to respect this disease and its continuing menace then it is highly probable – almost all the scientists are agreed on this – the worst of the pandemic is behind us.”
This comes as Britain’s third Covid wave will last through the summer and into the autumn with daily infections rising to 100,000 in weeks, a SAGE adviser has warned.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the SAGE board which advises the government, said the summer wave was likely to be “long and drawn out” after restrictions are eased on Monday.
His comments come as the Government prepares to lift all legal Covid restrictions on ‘Freedom Day’ in just two days time, with social distancing measures scrapped, large-scale events back on and work-from-home guidance shelved.
However, concern over the spread of the Delta variant is mounting with Britain yesterday recording 51,870 cases – the highest daily infection tally since January 15.
Prof Edmunds, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned the spread was unlikely to cease as measures are lifted.
He told BBC Radio 4: “My hunch is that we are looking at a high level of incidence for a protracted period right through the summer and probably through much of the autumn.
“We started easing restrictions before everybody was vaccinated.
“That is going to lead to infections in the unvaccinated people – primarily in this instance the younger individuals. It is inevitable that that was going to happen.”