Prime Minister: "The Omicron is already in the country, from the Knesset to the kindergartens"

The Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, is holding a press conference tonight (Sunday) at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, regarding the fifth wave of the Corona plague.

In his opening remarks, Bennett said: "Three weeks ago, I warned the citizens of Israel that a new wave was on the way, the Omicron wave. The next day, the Corona Cabinet convened and we, the first in the world, made a decision to close the entrance to Israel to foreigners. It was an important, courageous decision that bought us all precious time. But not everyone understood it in real time. Some thought we were exaggerating, some said "Is hysterical", But I thank my colleagues in the government who understood that we must, first of all, buy time and keep the variant as far away from the borders of Israel as possible. Gentlemen, the time we bought is running out. The omicron is already in the country, from the Knesset to the kindergartens, and it is spreading fast. The numbers are not high yet, but it is a highly contagious variant, and at the rate of doubling every two to three days, as we see all over the world, the fifth wave can be said to have begun. I’m not saying this to scare or create panic. We went through this stage. We all learn from experience from the previous four waves. I also recognize some fatigue in the public, it’s understandable and it’s natural. Precisely from this, we must act rationally and calmly, and do the right thing. Our goal is to cross this wave while continuing the activities of the economy, the economy and education, as much as we can. The way is to delay the rate of spread as much as possible, and while we are buying – vaccinate the children of Israel as quickly as possible."

Bennett told about Michal, a 16-year-old girl who fell ill in Corona and came to the Knesset: "Today I invited Michal, a lovely 16 and a half year old girl, to a cabinet meeting. She was not vaccinated, and a few months ago she fell ill with Corona. She recovered, but did not really recover. From a girl full of life and energy, who would get up at five-thirty in the morning to run, a scout instructor, an outstanding student in the difficult professions – she became a girl who had a hard time. Her energy levels plummet, she has a very hard time getting up in the morning, a few steps’ walk makes her gasp, she forgets things that happened two minutes ago, and when she gets to the tests she once excelled at, she has a complete ‘blackout’. Michal, I send you a hug and reinforcement. You did a very significant thing for others today when you came to the government, to tell us and the public, your story, the story of children suffering from chronic corona, "LONG COVID". I hope your story will encourage other parents to vaccinate their children. This time, in the childhood vaccine, Israel – contrary to our habit – is not the first in the world. USA"There are over 5 million vaccinated children, and they have no significant side effects. We can learn from their experience. Friends, the children’s vaccine is safe, and it’s the parents’ responsibility. A protected parent who has been vaccinated three times – must also protect his children. Do not leave your children exposed and vulnerable to the coming micron. Do not wait for a mobile to come to you, just arrive at the nearest HMO with the kids. No need for an appointment, we vaccinated the children tomorrow. Every hour you wait with it is an unnecessary hour."

In addition, Bennett said: "I want to explain – unlike a booster (the third vaccine), in which you reach protection 4-5 days after the injection, in the case of a first injection, it will take your children about 4-5 weeks until they reach protection. This is biology. Therefore, if you wait until the wave has hit us, it will be too late. The faster you vaccinate them, the faster they will be protected. As for boosters I want to say – there are a lot of question marks. We know one thing: Although it is possible to be infected with the vaccines, the boosters keep you so that even if you are infected, the disease will be much easier. I mean, we can not prevent this wave but you will be able to keep yourself within this wave. Today we are entering a new phase. In the near future, guidelines will be published. In the meantime, until then – I ask you to use common sense. First, maintain as much social distance as possible. Do not gather if you do not have to. Second thing, the masks. How simple, how effective. I know we all got a little out of it during the Delta era because everything was good, but now we need to put it back on. Third thing, I have a request from business owners, CEO"I have high-tech companies and outside of it, anyone who can allow his employees to work from home without injury – do it, tomorrow. We’re going through a phase, it will not be forever, but it’s time to move on to work from home in the private sector if you can. We, too, in the public sector, will move to a limited format that will allow more work from home. This will happen in the coming days. Fourth thing – we take vaccines for children very seriously. I want to say something here. In cities with a high socio-economic level, such as Ramat Hasharon and Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut, we see over 30% child immunization – this is a great start. But in places like Netivot, Tiberias, and many Arab localities, we see a fraction of a percent – 3%, 2% and even less. It bothers me a lot."

Finally, the Prime Minister said: "We are fortunate to have been privileged to live in a country that cares for everyone, and we, the Israeli government, take care of making vaccines accessible and buying vaccines in every way, but in the end you parents have a responsibility. Citizens of Israel, if three weeks ago binoculars were needed to see a wave coming from afar, it is now here. In my estimation another three to four weeks, maybe before, we will see a spike in morbidity that will leave no room for doubt. We as a government are prepared in all dimensions. We went through the delta wave in an excellent way and we succeeded, thanks to a combination of good and close management of the government, together with your responsible behavior – the citizens – that you went and vaccinated in droves. We will manage the Omicron with dedication and professionalism, but you, the citizens, are required to have an equally high level of responsibility. Not just about yourself, but more importantly – about the kids. If we act responsibly – with God’s help we will also pass this wave in peace".

Photo: Kobi Gideon / La"M

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