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Israel: COVID cabinet meets, hears from experts on Omicron predictions

A meeting of the COVID cabinet is underway this evening, as experts warn that the Omicron wave will not peak for several weeks.

According to reports, health experts will tell the cabinet ministers that the current infections will double once again and reach hundreds of thousands of new daily cases sometime in the next 2-3 weeks.

Experts believe that serious cases in the current wave — which stand at around 250 now — will continue to rise, but won’t surpass the rates seen during the Delta wave last year, which saw a peak of around 1,200 serious cases at one time.

However, due to the great uncertainty around the Omicron variant, hospitals are being warned to prepare for up to 2,500 serious cases at one time, in order to be ready for the worst case scenario.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened a press conference Tuesday evening following the dramatic rise in morbidity, and promised: “We will get through this together.”

In a statement at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, Bennett said: “We are facing a wave of infection that has hit the whole world, one that is more contagious than all the previous strains combined. The numbers are at a level we haven’t seen before. Several million Israeli citizens are going to be infected, but we are managing this crisis consistently.

“The economy is as open as far as is possible and continues to function. We do not want people to lose their jobs or to see businesses close down. Not everyone can work from home, and people are going to have to quarantine – therefore all workers in the economy will be paid compensation from the first day of self-isolation,” the prime minister promised.

Bennett criticized journalists who have been critical of his conduct: “Those studios that now broadcast complete hysteria called me hysterical a few weeks ago – when I predicted exactly what was going to happen and set about preparing the country.

“We are protecting the at-risk groups – we have brought in drugs from Merck and Pfizer on a much larger scale than anywhere in the rest of the world. 400,000 people have already been vaccinated with a fourth vaccine dose and this is a unique achievement in the world – no country protects its elderly better than Israel.”

The government’s coronavirus cabinet is currently meeting amid disagreements between its members.

Prof. Ran Balicer along with senior Health Ministry officials are recommending only limited restrictions placed on the economy, with large gatherings in enclosed areas prohibited.

Prof. Eran Segal, however, and others argue that even a full lockdown will not help – and that there is essentially nothing that can be done to limit the contagion.

According to a report on Channel 12 News, the meeting is likely to end with a decision to avoid imposing additional restrictions.

Source: TOI and Arutz Sheva