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End of Pandemic: Israel to Downgrade COVID-19 to Flu Level on January 31

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avatar by i24 News

A boy is tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a drive-through site in Israel on January 10, 2022. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

i24News – The coronavirus pandemic in Israel will soon be officially over.

Hebrew media reported on Monday evening that on Jan. 18 the Home Front Command’s COVID-19 testing facilities will be closed and the responsibilities will be transferred to the health care service providers.

Then on Jan. 31, according to a Kan news report, the coronavirus will be considered a viral disease similar to the flu. The control center for the pandemic will be closed and at this stage, according to the plan, there will no longer be a need for isolation for COVID-19 patients.

Heath care services expressed their opposition to the timeline, and asked for more time and a budget, as well as more instructions in writing.

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All of this is assuming that the next government, which will be sworn in on Thursday, will adopt this plan for ending the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel.

Downgrading COVID-19 to flu level was the aim all along, according to professor Cyrille Cohen, a member of the advisory committee for clinical trials of the coronavirus vaccine for the Ministry of Health. He told i24News that the goal was to get to an “endemic” stage of the virus when the disease is spreading at a normal or expected level.

“We are hoping that our health care system can cope with these winter infections, including Covid,” Cohen said.

Cohen described the de facto reality on the ground, with most of the public already moving on from the pandemic with less mask-wearing and many people not getting tested.

“We are more in a scenario where we are behaving like any other viral disease in the winter.”

The number of severe coronavirus cases in Israel has remained steady in recent months. Barring the emergence of a new variant, Cohen expressed confidence in Israel’s plans to downgrade the virus.

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