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Top health officials urge curbs on large gatherings as COVID-19 spread continues

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Senior health officials on Thursday called to limit public gatherings in order to drive down COVID-19 infection rates that have seen the number of seriously ill remain stubbornly high despite an ongoing vaccination campaign.

National coronavirus czar Salman Zarka and Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash both urged further restrictions as they warned that unvaccinated, seriously ill patients are overloading the medical care system.

Their remarks came as the Health Ministry reported that there were nearly 6,000 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed the day before, and as the country prepares for the return to school of millions of students after the Sukkot holiday, which ends next week.

“The situation of gatherings requires rethinking,” Zarka told Army Radio. “There are priorities, it is right to open the schools, to send students back to studies, but very full soccer pitches and events are not suitable in light of the state of morbidity in the hospitals.”

“A soccer match packed with 20,000 people is not suitable,” he added.

“The health system is very strained and very pressured,” Zarka said, noting that hospitals must also deal with regular patients, in addition to those who have COVID-19. Most of those who are seriously ill have not had all three recommended vaccine shots, he said.

“The story of this outbreak is the story of those who choose to not be vaccinated,” Zarka said.

Health Ministry chief Ash offered similar views, while calling for the cabinet to convene and discuss the situation. The so-called coronavirus cabinet, a panel of ministers tasked with forming virus policy, has not met for several days.

He urged a cabinet meeting to deliberate on reducing the size of public gatherings.

“I would reduce large gatherings, including in soccer pitches, so that in an enclosed space there not be........

© The Times of Israel

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