Israel on alert! Delta mutant strain rumored to be rampant, fears return to mandatory indoor masks

The vaccination rate of Wuhan pneumonia (novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19) in Israel is one of the top three in the world, which was thought to be effective in controlling the epidemic, but recently it was reported that the Indian Delta variant of the virus continues to spread and the epidemic is heating up. A total of 840,166 people have been diagnosed in Israel so far, and 6,428 people have died.

According to foreign media reports, Nachman Ash, Israel’s epidemic coordinator, announced that “if the number of confirmed cases exceeds 100 per day for a week, the Ministry of Health will decide to resume some epidemic prevention measures, including the mandatory wearing of masks indoors”.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed the next step with other officials on the 23rd, and decided to postpone the opening of the vaccinated tourists on July 1 until August, in order to avoid the aggravation of the epidemic in the country.

Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health at the health department, said that “we will be prepared for all situations” and that the department will always be ready with a policy to prevent the epidemic, and he also questioned the problems with screening at Ben Gurion Airpot and the lack of compliance of several people returning home. He also questioned the faulty screening at Ben Gurion Airpot and the failure of several arrivals to comply with quarantine regulations upon their return, which led to the entry of the highly infectious Delta variant into Israel.

According to the report, Ministry of Health Director General Chezy Levy said that while the spike in cases is indeed a cause for concern, he does not believe this is a fourth wave of the epidemic, as most of the sources of infection have a clear chain of transmission, with the areas of infection being the areas of movement of the returning population.

Israel’s epidemic coordinator Asher strictly warned that a heavy fine of 5,000 NIS (about 43,000 NTD) will be imposed on people who travel to “countries with severe epidemics”. Prime Minister Bennett also called on the public not to move across borders unless necessary, emphasizing the mandatory wearing of masks in airports and encouraging people to wear them in other indoor spaces as well.

Most Israeli officials are concerned about the Delta variant becoming a mainstream virus, especially among the large number of children diagnosed, most of whom have not been vaccinated.