Israel to speed up Covid-19 vaccination due to new strain

The Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Israel will speed up to a 24/7 format after the country registered fresh confirmed cases with a new strain of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Health has announced.

In a statement on Thursday night, the Ministry said that Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has decided to dramatically speed up the campaign, which began on Sunday, aiming to reach more than 100,000 vaccines a day, reports Xinhua news agency.

“In recent days, mutations have been detected in Israel. They are contagious at a rapid and unusual pace, which we have not yet met. We are in a chase against time,” the statement added.

The announcement came hours after a joint statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Health said that the government has decided to impose a full nationwide lockdown, the third of its kind since the onset of the pandemic, from 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The two-week lockdown will be extended for another two weeks unless the basic reproduction number, or the R number, falls below one, and the number of daily new cases falls below 1,000, according to the statement.

The R number in Israel is now 1.25, meaning the number of coronavirus cases increase exponentially.

The daily number of the new cases in Israel has twice crossed 4,000 this week.

The restrictions in the upcoming lockdown will include a ban on travelling more than 1,000 metres from home, with the exception of individual exercise, special cases and vaccination.

Staying in the residence of another person is also prohibited.

In addition, all businesses and recreational centres will be closed, except for restaurant deliveries, while the scope of activity for workplaces that do not receive the public will be reduced by 50 per cent.

The capacity of public vehicles will be reduced to 50 per cent, while gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 in closed space and up to 20 outside.

As of Friday morning, Israel has reported a total of 389,678 Covid-19 cases and 3,171 deaths.