In a statement Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated, the country is in the midst of a fifth COVID-19 wave as he urged citizens to step up vaccination and to take precautions such as working from home.
In a televised address, Bennett said Israel had bought some time following the spread of the Omicron variant which was first detected last month; he predicted a surge of sicknesses within a few weeks.
On Sunday, Israel’s Health Ministry advisory committee recommended adding the United States to the list of “red” countries to which citizens cannot fly without special permission.
So far, Israel has logged 134 confirmed Omicron cases and another 307 suspected cases, said the Health Ministry. Of these, 167 were symptomatic.
“The time we bought is running out,” said Bennett. “The numbers are still not high but it’s a very contagious variant, doubling itself every two-three days, as we see around the world. It’s possible to say that the fifth wave has begun.”
Rapidly responding to the Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa and Hong Kong, Israel has banned the entry of foreigners on November 25 and has imposed 3 to 14 day quarantine orders for Israelis returning from abroad.