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October 15, 2021 3:57 pm
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Israeli Health Ministry Chief Upholds Mask Mandate Despite Ease of COVID Curbs

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

A staff member hands a face mask to a boy as students return to school after the summer break, less than a month into a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine booster drive, at Arazim Elementary School in Tel Aviv, Israel September 1, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

i24 News — On Friday, Israel’s Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash reassured that Israel can continue the easing of COVID restrictions as infection rates wane.

At the same time, however, Ash urged caution ahead of the winter season, saying people won’t be removing their masks indoors anytime soon, The Times of Israel (ToI) reported.

“Morbidity is still here, we won’t take off masks soon,” the director-general said, despite encouraging the COVID trend.

Ash suggested that the protection offered by the third vaccine booster shot, already given to four million Israelis, will have longer-lasting effects than the first two doses, ToI reported.

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“The more people get vaccinated, the calmer we can be regarding fears of another outbreak,” Ash said.

However, he fears that “morbidity could rise again in the winter,” calling for authorities to be quicker in identifying waning protection in order to avoid another major wave.

The positivity rate as of Friday morning stood at 1.48 percent out of 94,434 total tests administered on Thursday, which marks the lowest percentage since July 17.

Over 3.8 million Israelis have received all three jabs and nearly 5.7 million have gotten at least two doses of the vaccine.

“As morbidity declines, we can ease [restrictions]. We are thinking of lifting more Green Pass restrictions,” Ash told Radio 103FM, ToI reported.

Steps to roll back regulations will be brought before the coronavirus cabinet, scheduled to convene on Monday.

According to ToI, the measures include expanding the “Green Classroom” pilot program, ending the “afternoon quarantine” guideline, and allowing gyms to operate without Green Pass requirements.

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