Israel close to 'normalization' with COVID, says senior health official

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis says Israel might soon bin remaining pandemic curbs as pathogen's spread slows, stresses public must not give in to complacency as new variants are likely to crop up in the future

Adir Yanko, Alexandra Lukash|
Israel is close to "normalization" with its coronavirus response, and might soon abolish quarantine and testing requirements, a senior health official said Monday.
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  • “We are approaching this point in all sorts of ways. For example, schoolchildren are no longer required to isolate and neither are those returning from abroad,” said Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry.
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    מסיבת עיתונאים משרד הבריאות
    מסיבת עיתונאים משרד הבריאות
    Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry
    (Photo: Yair Sagi)
    According to her, the government and the public both must not give in to complacency despite recent Health Ministry data showing that the spread of the pathogen in Israel is slowing.
    “We must remember that the speed with which variants and changes are produced is very high, that is why we are still guarding our borders while monitoring what is happening abroad,” Alroy-Preis added.
    “We are doing all of this to make sure we identify any and all dangers. It is not like other kinds of respiratory viruses. Here we are still in a world that is not entirely certain.”
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    בדיקות קורונה בירושלים
    בדיקות קורונה בירושלים
    COVD testing in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Reuters)
    However, Alroy-Preis further stressed that she believes the pandemic was still far from over.
    "There will be ebbs and flows in morbidity resulting from the introduction of new variants,” she said, adding that the vaccines remain the safest way to combat the illusive pathogen.
    “Everyone must make sure to be in their best immune state. If someone can get a fourth dose because they are over 60, I highly recommend doing so.”
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    חיסון קורונה בנתניה
    חיסון קורונה בנתניה
    The COVID vaccine
    (Photo: AFP)
    “The fourth jab protects 3-4 times more from serious illness and mortality,” she said, adding that the masking requirement in indoor public settings might soon be abolished as well, as many Israelis are already foregoing face coverings altogether.
    “We do not cling to masks when there is no need for them. But there are still thousands of confirmed daily cases, so the guidelines mandating masks in indoor spaces are still in effect and I urge everyone to abide by them.”
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