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Coronavirus: Israel may soon deviate from the requirement for outdoor mask

Israel may soon be able to lift the requirement to wear masks outdoors, as the number of active local coronavirus cases has dropped below 4,900.
On Tuesday, Channel 12 reported that the Ministry of Health had already approved the transition – as long as the trend remains positive – and the regulation will change from 18 April. Authorities have reportedly decided to wait until after Independence Day, which falls on April 15, to reduce the chance of increased outbreaks due to holiday parties.

Public Health Services Manager Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis acknowledged that ministry officials were discussing the move.

“Public health interventions always require finding a balance between efficiency and public safety,”

; said Dr. Eyal Leshem, Director of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, to Jerusalem Post. “We know that wearing masks is not as effective as doing it indoors. Moreover, we see that many people do not actually wear masks anyway. Therefore, at this point, with a low number of cases and a majority of the population vaccinated or recovering, it would make sense from an epidemiological and public health perspective to lift the requirement. ”

About 303 cases were identified on Tuesday, according to the ministry’s report on Wednesday. Only 0.5% of approx. 60,000 tests submitted gave a positive result, a rate similar to the previous days and as low as in May 2020. At no point in the past week did the number of new daily cases exceed 420.

The number of patients in serious condition and on ventilators continues to decline, and it was at 309 and 157 respectively on Wednesday. One week ago, they were 391 and 202, respectively.

The total number of deaths was 6,261, with five people succumbing to the virus in the last 24 hours.

According to Leshem, health authorities should give priority to issuing clear, simple and well-defined guidelines to avoid confusion among the public.

Asked whether he believes that the requirement for a mask can also be canceled indoors, provided that all people in the room have been vaccinated or recovered, the expert replied that it is important to ease the restrictions gradually.

“Our rule is to evaluate one intervention at a time; otherwise, it is very difficult to pinpoint what went wrong, ”Leshem explained, but he added that“ scientifically, fully vaccinated people pose a very low risk to each other. We will probably see more restrictions eased in the near future. ”

The coronavirus cabinet was expected to meet Wednesday night to raise the limit for outdoor gatherings from 50 to 100 people and to ease some restrictions in the education system.

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