Professor Salman Zarka
Professor Salman ZarkaOlivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Coronavirus czar Professor Salman Zarka on Monday held a press conference, speaking about the Omicron BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19.

According to him, as of Sunday evening there were around 700 cases of the BA.2 variant in Israel.

"We are following the BA.2 variant, especially in Britain and Denmark," Prof. Zarka said. "There, the infections are causing the Omicron wave not to subside. We are concerned that the spread of BA.2 in Israel will cause thousands of infections over a period of several weeks. The global picture shows that this infection is more contagious than Omicron, but the clinical picture is not worse. We really hope that this will be the case here."

"Among those 60 and over, there are over 100,000 who did not yet receive a third dose," he added. "About 670,000 people received the fourth dose, for about 40% of the population over age 60. I call on everyone ages 60 and up and to those at risk - get vaccinated and protect yourselves from severe illness."

Prof. Zarka also recommended that people take home antigen tests before family events, in order to protect their elderly family members. He emphasized, "Coronavirus is here and it will remain here for many months."

At the same time, Prof. Zarka said that, "Israel's hospitals are not in danger of collapse. I am following the situation. In certain places there is more of an overload, but the healthcare system continues providing care."

However, he warned, "The more the number of [coronavirus] cases rises, the less optimal the care will be."

When asked if additional medical and nursing staff would be provided to help hospitals overcome the wave, Prof. Zarka said, "We need to strengthen the healthcare system, not just for this wave. The State of Israel deserves a strong healthcare system. We have agreed to allocate 45 ICU beds. We hope to announce this in the coming days - it will help in this wave, now."