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Deaths pass 4,000 but ex-virus tsar says ‘We’re in final stages of Covid’

FORMER coronavirus tsar Ronni Gamzu insisted this week that the country is in the “final stages” of the pandemic... even though the death toll broke through the dreaded the 4,000 mark.

“We are seeing clear results of our massive vaccination drive,” he told TV viewers.

Gamzu, who is director of Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, added: “We are showing the world that there is an exit strategy.”

However, his optimism came against the backdrop of the third wave of Covid that is exacting a heavy toll on the country.

Up to yesterday, 4,179 had died and 578,319 had been infected. The first dose of the vaccine had been given to 2,364,828 people while 691,876 had received the second jab.

But while Israel is a world leader with vaccinations — three million have received shots and the “R” number is below one — the seriousness of the situation was underscored when the nationwide lockdown of the last two weeks was extended to January 31.

And a health ministry official said that Israel should close its skies in order to prevent people infected with coronavirus variants from entering the country.

Dr Orly Greenfeld, medical director of the ministry's national vaccine programme, told the website Ynet that while closing the airport for a short period of time would be advisable, in the meantime it was crucial to send people coming back from abroad to quarantine in hotels.

On Tuesday, Israel reported a record of 10,021 new cases in a single day as the health ministry announced that 40-year-olds could now be vaccinated.


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