Country's alarming warning about 'fifth wave': 'Time is running out'

Israel is facing its fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic as the country's president told residents: "The time we bought is running out."

The country has more than 7,500 active cases of Covid, according to the health ministry. There are 134 confirmed Omicron cases and another 307 suspected cases.

While vaccination is high among Israelis, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said it was especially critical for parents to get their children vaccinated.

Medics with the Magen David Adom transfer the belongings of a Coronavirus patient to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, due to full capacity in other hospitals following a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus infections in Israel.
Medics transfer the belongings of a Covid patient to another hospital in Jerusalem as cases rise and capacity at health clinics shrinks. Source: Getty Images

Israel last month began offering vaccines to younger children between the ages of 5 and 12, but authorities say the vaccination rate in that age group remains disappointingly low.

“The fifth wave has begun,” he said.

"The time we bought is running out.

“The numbers are still not high but it's a very contagious variant, doubling itself every two to three days, as we see around the world.”

Shoppers, some wearing face masks against the coronavirus, crowd an alley of Jerusalem's main market.
Shoppers at Jerusalem's main market. Source: Getty Images

Israel previously world leader on vaccination rates

In a first response to Omicron, Israel banned the entry of foreigners on November 24 and has imposed three- to 14-day quarantine orders for Israelis returning from abroad.

Earlier on Sunday, a Health Ministry advisory committee recommended Israel add the United States to the list of "red" countries to which its citizens cannot fly without special permission.

Mr Bennett urged people to social distance, wear masks and to work from home whenever possible.

Israel rolled out a world-leading vaccination campaign early this year, and more than 4.1 million of Israel’s 9.3 million people have received a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Israel has recorded at least 8,232 deaths from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

with The Associated Press and Reuters

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