The Israeli government appears to have developed a plan to combat the omicron type of COVID-19 discovered in South Africa five weeks ago. Let’s call Israel’s “choose your battles” approach for lack of a better name and because the administration hasn’t explained what it is.
In other words, since the new version is too contagious to be contained by previous lockdowns, travel bans, and mobility restrictions, they are no longer necessary. The economy could also remain open, and Israelis could go abroad and continue to gather in malls, sports stadiums, and music halls, ideally wearing masks, starting later this week. In any case, the omicron will continue to spread at an unprecedented rate.
During the current surge in omicron-related cases, Israel is not preparing extensive support for new coronaviruses for business, according to Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The announcement came at a time when an outbreak of disease began in Israel, which is expected to reach more than 50,000 a day by next week. Back in mid-December, daily cases were reported in the hundreds.
Although omicron is currently the most common form, the delta strain is still spreading, as is the severe case of seasonal flu. In a worst-case scenario, when a quarter of the population becomes infected with the omicron, this could overwhelm hospitals and shut down the economy. As a result, opponents say the government should impose certain restrictions to reduce the spread of disease.
Concerns have been raised about the impact the surge could have on the Israeli economy, which recovered from the epidemic in 2021 thanks to the strong tech industry and is expected to grow 5.5 percent this year, according to the Bank of Israel. At a press conference at the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem, Lieberman said: “We must support any enterprise that is damaged.” “But in the end, most firms are doing well, and I’m glad.”
Although such cases have increased dramatically in recent weeks, most of them have been minor. Hospital admissions are still modest compared to previous waves, but they have been growing recently. Many countries are facing excessive absenteeism due to the current wave, which has reached record levels and could lead to economic damage.
Meanwhile, the government will focus on what it can do, such as vaccinating everyone over the age of 5, including the fourth dose for those over 60, and stockpiling new antiviral drugs for people with particularly severe illness. Omicron patients are hospitalized in a smaller percentage of cases, and most Israelis who have been vaccinated are unlikely to develop severe symptoms if infected. It’s a calculated risk but worth it to help a besieged population maintain some new norm.