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Israel scrambles to curb surge in COVID infections


Israel, a world leader in coronavirus vaccination, reported its highest daily infection rate in three months as it scrambles to contain the spread of the new delta variant

Officials are rushing to vaccinate children and are considering stricter travel restrictions at the country’s main airport.

In recent months, Israel has reopened businesses, schools and venues, lifting almost all restrictions after vaccinating about 85% of the adult population. It is now seen as an early-warning system for other nations.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday announced a campaign to vaccinate thousands of children by the middle of the month.

However, what is worrying is that this trend is still very less visible when it comes to virus deaths. In the last two weeks, the ministry recorded only one. In Israel, 5.1 million people out of a population of 9.3 million have received the required double dose of vaccination. Another 400,000 have received at least one dose.

Israel this week recorded the highest number of vaccinations for children and reimposed a rule requiring people to wear masks indoors. Bennett appointed a coronavirus commissioner to manage arrivals at the main entrance to Israel, Ben Gurion International Airport, for the first time in what he called “a huge national vulnerability”.

Interior Minister Aylette Sheik said on Wednesday that officials were prepared to close the airport if the situation worsens.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that officials are considering rolling back a “green pass” system that differentiates between vaccinated and non-vaccinated citizens in access to certain places and activities.

Israel’s government last week postponed plans to reopen the country to vaccinated tourists over concerns about the spread of the delta variant.

Israel was initially set to reopen its borders to vaccinated visitors on Thursday, after largely locking down the country during the pandemic. It had already started allowing groups of vaccinated tourists to enter in May.

But after the infection increased in the last 10 days, the government extended that date till August 1.

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