The Ministry of Health updated that as of Sunday, four more confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Israel, bringing the total to 11.
There is a high suspicion of another 24 cases of the Omicron variant, and testing of those cases is still underway.
The four newly identified cases were vaccinated with a booster shot, with two of them returning from France, one from the US and the fourth person returning from South Africa.
16 of the 24 people who are suspected to have been exposed to Omicron are either unvaccinated or it has been six months since they recovered from COVID-10 or received their initial vaccines.
According to data from the Home Front Command presented to the Ministry of Health, three soldiers who returned from a trip to France are among those who are suspected to have been exposed to Omicron.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet approved at its weekly meeting the third antigen test campaign in the education system, to commence on Tuesday, December 7.
According to the emergency ordinance, pupils in kindergartens and grades 1-6 which had a break for Hanukkah, as well as schools that enjoy an exemption under the Compulsory Education Law (such as ultra-orthodox institutions), will be required to present declarations signed by their parents attesting to the carrying out of an antigen test with negative results as a condition for entering school.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that “in the United States and Europe, winter is extremely severe; morbidity is peaking; there are lockdowns and restrictions across the world. Here it is warm, open and safe. The basic reproduction number has fallen below one again.”
“Friends, this does not happen on its own. The fact that Israel is an island of functionality and health, of an open economy and a normal life, is the result of our tight management. Therefore, I suggest that we not underestimate Omicron,” he added.
“Just this morning I received a report that 100 people were infected with Omicron at a party in Norway. It is not just in South Africa. We need to be circumspect. This is a strain that we do not yet know enough about although we do know with a high level of certainty that it is very contagious. We are still in the foggy period that we ourselves have defined, and we are still studying.”
“Every day we are reassessing the situation – on the basis of the data we know at the time – regarding measures to ease restrictions or make them more stringent. Everything is according to the data.”
“Some people are saying: 'But the situation is so good in the country, why are you being so stringent?' The reason that the situation is good in the country is that we are taking quick and precise action. We know to relax the restrictions when necessary and when to tighten them. In the current uncertainty, this is exactly the step to take. It is better to be careful at the outset than to regret it later," the Prime Minister concluded.