Health Minister Yuli Edelstein
Health Minister Yuli EdelsteinFlash90

Speaking on Reshet Bet on Tuesday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned that if things continue the way they are currently going, the country is headed for a third lockdown very soon.

“We will be forced to shut down retail and trade,” Edelstein said, “given the coronavirus statistics we’re seeing right now.” He noted that, “The government already decided on very clear criteria regarding reimposition of restrictions. We said that when we reach 2,500 new cases per day, with an R-rate of 1.32, that’s when it happens. We’re not far off that now.”

This morning’s update from the Health Ministry indeed recorded 2,284 new Covid-19 diagnoses out of 72,423 tests administered – a positivity rate of 3.2%. The number of serious cases in the country’s hospital has also risen to 378, although the number of people on ventilators has dropped to 98.

Commenting on the vaccination program due to start within the week, Edelstein said, “I will most probably be vaccinated on Saturday night. I won’t ask any member of the general public to do something that I am not personally prepared to do – that’s an elementary principle for any public servant.” He added that, “To date, there are no preexisting health conditions that have been officially listed as reasons for any person to refrain from being vaccinated.”

Also this morning, Dr. Sharon Alray-Price, head of Public Health Services, commented on the situation at Ben Gurion airport, saying that it was unacceptable. “We are seeing levels of crowding that should not be permitted,” she told Kan Reshet Bet. “There is no reason why this situation should arise – after all, we know the numbers of passengers on any given flight in advance.”

Alray-Price added that in her opinion, there was no doubt that the country is already in the midst of a third wave of the coronavirus, with the number of confirmed cases rising daily. “We are a week or ten days at most away from enforcing much stricter regulations,” she warned, adding that the effect of a mass vaccination program would not be felt before March.