Israel could see around 40 percent of the population infected with the coronavirus during the current wave, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday, as testing facilities nationwide buckle.
“Data presented at the cabinet meeting indicates that here, in Israel, there will be a total of two to four million citizens infected during this current wave,” Bennett wrote on his Twitter account.
Israel, a country of only 9.4 million, has almost quadrupled infections in the past week compared to the previous one. The health ministry reported 17,518 new infections on Saturday.
The lack of testing sites put enormous pressure on existing ones, prompting the government to revise its testing policy and by Friday designate PCR tests to be the most accurate, only for those at risk and those over 60.
Someone else has to take an antigen test, whether at home or administered by a drug.
But following the new guidelines also proved impossible. Antigen tests are in scarce supply at pharmacies across the country, and people spend hours in line waiting for one to be administered.
Bennett reiterated that he would do everything possible to avoid a lockdown, which he said had not proven to be an efficient measure against the spread of the highly infectious Omron variant, and could deal a huge blow to the economy.
“We have only one goal – to keep the economy as running as possible and protect the most vulnerable,” he said.
Also on Sunday, Israel began allowing vaccinated visitors into the country six weeks after completely closing its borders to prepare for the inevitable fifth wave of Covid cases by receiving vaccinations and medicine.
Health ministry data showed that more than 4.3 million Israelis were fully vaccinated with three shots, while on Sunday 204 people were hospitalized in critical condition as a result of the Covid-19 disease.
Israel has officially recorded more than 1.5 million COVID cases, including 8,269 deaths.
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