Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
Israel is changing its quarantine and diagnostic policy in a bid to ensure lasting protection for those vulnerable to the spread of the Omicron variant, the health ministry said.
According to officials, PCR tests will be designated for people over 60 years of age and those with a weak immune system. In the lower-risk groups, the diagnostic test will be done using a rapid antigen test. Those vaccinated against Covid-19 who have been exposed to the virus will use self-tests to determine if they should be quarantined.
"It is an important change aimed at identifying the virus in the vulnerable populations faster while intervening and preventing serious disease. Now we are focusing less on infection rates," said the director-general of the Ministry of Health during a press conference.
Israel hopes Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co Inc antivirals will help keep hospitalizations and serious cases low, even if the number of daily cases is expected to reach new highs in the coming weeks.
The new policies will take effect on Friday, January 7, the ministry said.
Israel has recorded about 1.4 million cases since the beginning of the pandemic and more than 8,000 deaths. 64% of the 9.4 million population is fully vaccinated. The fourth dose of the vaccine was given to the vulnerable this week.
New case record
Israel announced today that in the last 24 hours it has recorded almost 12,000 new cases of Covid-19, a number that is a new record of infections since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to the data of the Ministry of Health, 11,978 additional cases were recorded from yesterday, Tuesday, exceeding the previous record of 11,344 infections that had been recorded on September 2, 2021.
A total of about 60,000 people have been diagnosed positive in Israel, but only 125 are in serious condition, according to the ministry.
In the country of 9.4 million people, almost 4.3 million people have received a booster dose of the vaccine and the health authorities have started giving a fourth dose to the immunocompromised.
Yesterday, Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the cases "are on the rise" and expressed the assessment that his country will record "tens of thousands of new cases in the coming days".
"The good news is that vaccines are effective," he said during a tour of a hospital in central Israel. "All vaccinated people who wear a mask are unlikely to get seriously ill."