Israel is in the middle of the fifth wave of Covid 19 due to the Ômicron variant, with Prime Minister Naphtali Bennett on Sunday urging citizens to step up vaccinations and take precautionary measures such as working from home.
In a televised speech, Bennett said that when Ômicron was first detected last month, Israel had bought some time by moving quickly to control travel, but it is now declining. He predicted that the disease would break out in a few weeks.
Earlier on Sunday, an advisory panel of the Ministry of Health recommended that the United States add Israel to the list of “red” countries where its citizens cannot fly without special permission. Bennett did not mention this extent in his speech.
Israel has 134 confirmed cases of Ômicron and 307 suspected cases, according to the Ministry of Health.
“The time we buy is over,” Bennett said. “The numbers are not high yet. It’s a very contagious variant, which doubles every two or three days, as we see around the world. We can say that the fifth wave has already begun.”
In response to the first rapid detection of Ômicron in South Africa and Hong Kong, Israel on November 25 banned foreigners from entering and imposed three to 14 days of isolation on Israelis returning from abroad.
But Bennett was criticized abroad for his wife and children’s vacations, and he urged Israelis to avoid such trips.