Israel is set to reinstate an indoor mask mandate in a bid to contain outbreaks of Covid-19, the latest setback for one of the world’s most vaccinated countries as the infectious Delta variant drives a surge of cases in children and vaccinated people.
- The mandate will be restored when the average number of daily Covid-19 cases over the course of a week exceeds 100, Israel’s health ministry said Thursday, a threshold its public health director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis believes will be met Sunday.
- At the time of writing, there are already more than 100 cases reported for Thursday, which is the fourth consecutive day where Israel has registered over 100 new cases.
- Israel’s Coronavirus Commissioner Professor Nachman Ash recommended people “to start wearing masks indoors already now,” the Jerusalem Post reported, adding that they will be “mandatory” as of next week.
- While infections are low, especially compared to Israel’s peak of over 10,000 cases a day in January, the new outbreaks have clustered in children and in people who have already been vaccinated, prompting a renewed vaccination drive in children and the renewed prospect of quarantines for anybody exposed to the disease, even if they have been immunized.
- As many as 50% of Israel’s new cases are among vaccinated people, officials said, though there is not yet enough data to draw any conclusions on how effective the vaccines are against the Delta variant, Alroy-Preis said.
- Israel is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, immunizing 57% of the population with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.