Covid Challenge: ‘Within 5 weeks we can finish this business,’ Bennett says

“It is truly Yom Kippur for dealing with the coronavirus, and we inherited this shameful complacency from our predecessors,” Bennett said.

By Atara Beck, World Israel News

Prime Minister Bennett and Health Minister Horowitz addressed the nation Wednesday, calling on the public to take responsibility in order to prevent a new lockdown.

They asked that people wear masks indoors, get vaccinated if they haven’t yet done so, and maintain social distancing.

On Monday, the number of new cases of coronavirus reached 760 – the highest since March 24. The next day, there were 756 new cases, and by Wednesday afternoon another 519 were confirmed.

Before the recent outbreak of the Delta variant, the numbers were in the single digits.

“The vaccines did good work against the original virus and took us out of the third wave,” Bennett said. “But we have known all along, and we said so several times, that with pandemics mutations occasionally develop – and this is what happened…

“This is only the beginning,” he said, urging people not to travel abroad.

“The Delta mutation is far more contagious than the original virus; therefore, we are seeing an increase in almost the entire world. In the space of a few weeks, this has translated into many more cases and many more deaths. Even in countries with a high vaccination rate, we are seeing the same rapid increase in recent days, in the US, France and Britain.

“It is important to say, the vaccines are very effective but the vaccines alone are insufficient against the Delta mutation.”

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The blame game: ‘Severe neglect’

Bennett went on to blame the Netanyahu government for the problem.

“Several weeks ago, all Israel could have boarded a plane and flown to any country, as red as it may have been, and as full of mutations and strains as it may have been. Many Israelis with an urge went to the reddest cities in the world and nobody stopped this.

“The mutations and viruses had an open highway,” he continued. “This severe neglect lasted for a year and a half. It is truly Yom Kippur for dealing with the coronavirus – and we inherited this shameful complacency from our predecessors…

“Now, Israelis cannot board planes and fly to the highest-risk countries. Whoever tries, we take him off the plane. Over 100 Israelis have been taken off planes. Whoever tries to be a wise-guy and endangers the Israeli public – we will not allow this.”

“There are over 300,000 young people who can get vaccinated but have not been vaccinated,” the prime minister added. Go, make an appointment to get vaccinated, wear masks and watch yourselves and we, for our part, will do everything so that the coming school year does not look like its predecessors. This was an awful year and we really want to do everything because the easiest thing to do would be to let you wither away on Zoom.”

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‘A new path’

The country must embark on a “new path, a path of cooperation…trust,” he said, calling on the public to work together with the government.

“Within five weeks we can finish this business,” he said.

There are countries around the world where people are begging for vaccines, while in Israel there are plenty, Horowitz said, pleading with the public to get vaccinated. “It borders on irresponsibility” not to do so, he said.

Also on Wednesday, Dr. Salmon Zarka, former head of Ziv Medical Center in Safed, was appointed the new coronavirus commissioner, replacing Dr. Nachman Ash, who will now head Israel’s Health Ministry.