Israel starts full 14-day lockdown at midnight Thursday

The cabinet on Tuesday, Jan. 5, ordered the country to go into full lockdown from Thursday midnight. The naysayers were driven to this consensus by a steep, rapid hike in coronavirus infection, spurred by the presence of the UK variant.  Data put before the ministers indicated the this mutation had invaded all parts of the country and every age group. According to this data, one such case is liable to infect six others.

The hospitals and overtaxed medical staff, moreover, said their resources are close to their limits. More and more covid cases reach hospitals in serious condition and must be immediately connected to ventilators.

The phony lockdown of the last 10 days will on Thursday, therefore, make way for the closure of all schools, businesses and workplaces excepting only essential sectors, which are still to be determined. Indoor gatherings are reduced from 10 to 5. Persons found outdoors will be asked to explain their purpose. Most of the rabbis in charge of the ultra-religious education network agreed to comply with the new rules, provided they applied to everyone else. PM Binyamin Netanyahu, who backed the health ministry’s demand for a strict, total lockdown right now, broadcast an appeal to the public: “Let’s make the final effort before {the pandemic] ends.
After reaching record numbers of shots, Israel has interrupted immunizations for the next two or three weeks to wait for the next batch of vaccines to be delivered.

DEBKAfile reported earlier:

First deliveries to Israel of six million Moderna vaccines by the end of January are assured, the drugmaker announced on Monday night, Jan. 4. Altogether, 1,37 million Israelis have received first doses of Pfizer vaccines and are due for their second this month. However, the new year has seen an ominous hike in Israel’s coronavirus level – 8,308 new cases on Monday, three thousand more than on Sunday, with 7.6pc positive results from 110,000 tests. Serious hospital cases also leapt from 731 to 764 in 24 hours and the number of deaths reached 3,445 at an average rate of 25 a day since Jan. 1.

While these figures may finally beat down resistance within the government to the no-exceptions lockdown urged by the health authorities, the opposition is gearing up to upend the measure when it reaches the Knesset committee for endorsement. Pressure groups are being rallied to lobby hard for an immediate shutdown, including hospital directors, some of whom say their coronavirus wards are filling up, and the local authorities, which have taken matters in their own hands and are closing schools with pockets of infection.

On Monday, the government approved a further injection of two billion shekels (app. $623m) in aid for distressed businesses. Tens of thousands have gone bankrupt since the covid-19 closures began. Groups of shopkeepers threaten to defy any lockdown orders.
Israel is the third country after the US and Canada to approve the Moderna vaccine for general use. Its vaccines may be shipped and stored at 15 degrees Celsius and kept in regular freezers, unlike Pfizer which requires minus 70 degrees. A Pfizer vaccine must be used within five days after thawing, whereas Moderna’s is stable at refrigerator temperatures for 30 days and at room temperatures for 12 hours. Both use the same technology, require two doses to be effective and have proved 94-95pc effective in clinical trials.
Health Minister Yuly Edelstein Monday urged Israelis not to swerve from the guidelines of masks and non-crowding, since it will take months to vaccinate the entire population. Even then, immunity is assured only 10 days after the second dose is administered.
While the coming Moderna delivery offers a chance to quickly finish vaccinating the high-risk, elderly and other priority groups and start on the general public, infection is skyrocketing at an alarming pace. It is the consensus of health experts that without a short, sharp lockdown at this moment, the virus will get completely out of hand.  

Moderna plans to produce at least 600 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, boosting its former forecast to meet pressing demands from the United States and Europe.

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