Coronavirus: Israeli cabinet to meet on fate of schools as R rate climbs

The R rate – or reproduction rate – rose back to 1 on Monday, as the government prepared to meet about the next steps in lifting restrictions, including further openings in the education system.

According to the data released by the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center, some 3,089 people were found infected on Sunday, with 5.2% of the 58,947 tests administered returning a positive result.

The R rate measures the ability of the disease to spread, indicating how many other people each person carrying the virus will infect. Maintaining the R rate at 1 or below is one of the criteria that the Health Ministry set to allow relaxing restrictions, together with the number of people fully vaccinated and the number of patients in serious conditions.

As of Monday morning, there were some 742 patients in serious conditions, 232 of whom on ventilators according to the ministry. The figures have been slowly but steadily declining in the past few days.

In addition, some 3.3 million Israelis have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and an additional 1.4 million got the first jab.

In an interview with Kan Reshet Bet ahead of the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the government is considering reopening grades 7-10 as early as Wednesday.

“We are discussing moving up the return of middle school students to their classrooms on Wednesday, even though there are also considerations to wait until the following Sunday,” he explained.

Netanyahu vowed that the state has the budget to extend the school year to July for those who are interested. 

“We are almost the strongest economy in the world according to the credit rating and the situation of the shekel,” he said.

The prime minister also gave an interview to Army Radio on Monday morning, emphasizing that he continues to be in close contact with vaccine producers regarding vaccine supplies to Israel.

“We are evaluating the possibility of renewing the green passport every six months,” he said. “The coronavirus may return, and we will see an endless spiral of closures, more morbidity and more death. There will be a huge competition for vaccines between the countries of the world, which already exists today. My first mission is to bring in another 36 million vaccines in the coming year.”

Coronavirus Commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash warned on Monday that the large gatherings and parties in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem over the Purim holiday this past weekend may require closing everything that has been reopened ahead of the Passover holiday.

“We are bringing the increase in infection rates in 10 days or two weeks, I have no doubt we will see it in the data,” Ash told Army Radio, adding that the option of another lockdown is “definitely on the table” if infection rates increase.

“We will not endanger the public just to observe Seder night,” he pointed out.

Read More: Coronavirus: Israeli cabinet to meet on fate of schools as R rate climbs

2021-03-01 12:00:00

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