With the start of Hanukkah only a few days away, Israeli officials are warily eyeing large gatherings for the holidays, as COVID-19 numbers have started to climb again. In June, Israel was back down to about 200 new cases a day. But, according to the Health Ministry, new cases were at 603 on Tuesday. If they climb to 1,000 or more a day, restrictions may again be put into place. The real number officials are watching is the transmission rate—it had been below 1 for two months but has started to rise over the last few days.
"If we pass the transmission rate of 1.2, we will have to use restrictions to reduce crowd sizes as a first stage, including in venues operating under the Green Pass, as these are events where more infections are seen," Ilana Gans, Health Ministry Public Health Services Department chief of said. Figures released on Wednesday (which are actually from 10 days before) show a rate of 1.08.
Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett still thinks the country is doing a pretty good job of managing life in the midst of a pandemic. "Israel is controlling the pandemic well. We took control of the fourth infection wave without closing businesses or schools. The trend in child morbidity in Israel is worrying, the infection rate is above one, but the number of positive tests is stable."
Bennett took his 9-year-old son to get a COVID vaccine on Tuesday, as the nation officially kicked off its campaign to immunize children ages 5-11. Gans said that around 30,000 young children in Israel are already scheduled to receive coronavirus vaccines. Close to 1 million children ages 5-11 are eligible for the shots. Three thousand receive their first injection on Tuesday.
Forty-three percent of the new cases over the last week were in children (5-11), seven percent were 4 and younger, and eight percent were 12-15 years old. Of the 124 people in serious condition in the hospital, 75 percent were unvaccinated and 11 percent under-vaccinated (those whose previous vaccination is considered "expired").
Israel has a population of 9.3 million. Almost two-thirds—6.27 million have received one injection, 5.76 million have gotten two jabs, and over 4 million have also received a booster.
Health officials are already considering the need for a fourth shot (2nd booster) for COVID-19 for adults.
"It's probably a matter of time, and the question is how long. If (vaccine protection) lasts for a year, we'd be delighted," Health Ministry Director-General Professor Nachman Ash said Sunday. "In any case, it probably will not last many years, even the booster shot, and we will have to keep getting vaccinated from time to time."
**The big news in Israel today is about a new Covid variant in South Africa. Scientists are using words like "horrifying" and "worst yet." The UK is talking about another Christmas lockdown, while Israel has suspended travel to and from seven African countries. Someone already tested positive for the new strain in Israel. I believe that God is sovereign, but I would be lying if I told you I understood all this. This is a time to humble ourselves in prayer.
Please agree with me by praying this: Lord, we humble ourselves before you. We ask that you would heal our lands. We repent on behalf of the nations. Turn this world to you. In judgment, remember mercy. (Hab. 3:2)