Israel vows to take action against 'new outbreak' amid delta variant fears

Israel will reconvene its coronavirus cabinet, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses reporters at Ben Gurion International Airport on June 22, 2021. - Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that a rise in cases was "a new outbreak" and urged Israelis to cancel their flights abroad and vaccinate their children to head off runaway infections. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel has said it will take action against a “new outbreak” of coronavirus amid fears the spread of the Delta variant could jeopardise its emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our goal is to cut it off, to take a bucket of water and pour it over the fire while the fire is still small,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday.

The country recorded 125 new infections on Monday, its highest in two months. Another 110 new infections were reported on Tuesday, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

Israel will reconvene its coronavirus cabinet, Mr Bennett said, warning that the Delta variant - first detected in India - is starting to spread in the country. 

Its members will include foreign minister Yair Lapid, defense minister Benny Gantz and other key figures, according to local media reports.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Bennett also expressed concern about the pace of Israel’s vaccination drive and stressed that most of its supply of doses will expire by the end of next month. 

Israeli media reported that another shipment is expected to arrive in a few months.

The country has begun offering vaccinations to teenagers aged 12 and over. "I can tell you, as the father of children this age, I am taking my children to be vaccinated," Mr Bennett said in his speech.

Two hundred and seventy inspectors will be mobilised to ensure strict compliance in the wake of “massive” quarantine violations, Mr Bennett said. 

Israel will discourage foreign trips unless essential, ask all those who enter into the country to have a PCR test and return to enforcing mask-wearing at Ben-Gurion International Airport, he said.

Further announcements are expected in the coming days.

“We do not want to return to the days of general lockdown or lockdowns in cities. We can avoid this. It depends on you alone,” Bennett said.

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