The head of Israel's national coronavirus taskforce warned Wednesday that a significant proportion of the country's adults were still vulnerable to COVID-19, stressing that unvaccinated people constituted almost all of the serious cases of the disease.
"We are still seeing hundreds of serious cases of COVID-19 every week due to the fact that a quarter of the adult population is not yet protected, including those who received their second dose of the vaccine less than a week ago," Magen Israel chief Prof. Ran Balicer told Ynet.
Balicer said he was overjoyed to see more and more aspects of life returning to normal but warned that "we are not out of the woods yet."
Israel has now lifted the majority of the restrictions imposed during its third lockdown that began in December including those on indoor dining, event halls and concerts, which are now open to Green Pass holders who have received both vaccine shots or people who have recovered from COVID-19.
Balicer said he was concerned about the spread of the South African variant of coronavirus in the country.
"We have to prevent it from spreading further," he said. "It constitutes 1% of morbidity and we must make sure that does not increase," he said.
"As far as we know it is not more contagious, at least no more than the British variant that is most prevalent, but it is still a cause of concern here and with my colleagues abroad," he said.
"Ben-Gurion International Airport should have in place an established method of testing, just like other countries have in order to prevent future variants from entering the country," Balicer said.
"It's not rocket science. Other nations are dealing with this threat very well."
Balicer also expressed concern over the failure of some Israelis to isolate when they return to the country.
"We know not everyone complies with quarantine and other regulations," he said. "There must be a system of testing and quarantine in place to ensure that returning Israelis do not spread COVID-19 further."