COVID-19 is Spreading Quickly in Israel Despite Fast Vaccinations. All Flights Frozen.
The lockdown in Israel was originally scheduled to end on Thursday, January 21, but due to an unfavorable development of the current situation, the cabinet decided to extend it until January 31. On Sunday, January 24, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on the cabinet’s decision to cancel all flights and close the country from January 25 to January 31 in an effort to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus.
The ban does not apply to foreign cargo, or firefighting and medical aircraft. An exemption is also granted to persons who need to travel for medical procedures, to workers in essential sectors, or to people traveling to funerals of their family members. For the first time, Jews are not allowed to immigrate to Israel, “unless it is a matter of life and death”, as the Minister of Transport Miri Regev pointed out.
Although Israel celebrates a record-setting Covid vaccination drive, the number of sick and newly infected is not decreasing. The country with a population of 9 million, has recorded over 595.000 cases of coronavirus infection. The coordinator of anti-epidemic measures, Nachan Ash, said that 30 to 40 percent of infected have a British variant of coronavirus. The country fears a further increase in new cases, especially among the younger and unvaccinated population.
Nachman Ash said that the effectiveness of the first dose of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNtech was probably not as high as expected. Ash pointed out that after vaccination with the first dose, up to 12 400 Israelis became infected with Covid. Coordinator Ash is also not sure whether the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine also protects against the mutated variant of coronavirus. However, these comments were countered by Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein, who called them premature.
According to the BBC, immunologists agree that it may take up to three weeks after the first dose of the vaccine to take effect. Pfizer and BioNtech report that the vaccine is 52 percent effective after the first dose and up to 95 percent after the second and final dose.
The Ombudsman for Medical Professions Boaz Lev said that the spread of coronavirus is also caused by violation of anti-epidemic measures. The attitude of the Orthodox community in Israel may be a problem. “Weddings, gatherings, open schools in ultra-Orthodox communities, all have an effect on the spread of the virus,” Lev said.