Israel faces Covid surge as virus circulates even among vaccinated

Israeli teenagers are being vaccinated following Covid outbreaks in schools - Reuters
Israeli teenagers are being vaccinated following Covid outbreaks in schools - Reuters

Israel has recommended vaccinating teenagers following several coronavirus outbreaks clustered around schools, with even fully vaccinated people contracting the virus as authorities blame the more infectious delta variant.

The country reported 125 new cases in 24 hours on Tuesday, the highest one-day total since the end of April.

The latest outbreaks were identified in several schools following random testing and came after Israel removed nearly all of its coronavirus restrictions following a dramatic decrease in cases and a world-leading vaccination campaign that began in December.

Infections peaked in January with over 10,000 daily cases, falling to new daily cases in single digits this month.

In two schools, nine fully vaccinated teachers contracted the virus, local newspaper Haaretz reported.

The town of Binyamina-Giv'at Ada in central Israel has been labelled a "yellow" zone – an area with moderate levels of coronavirus – in the first such rating since May when the entire country was declared green.

Among the latest positive cases were three fully vaccinated members of the military, the Israeli Defence Forces announced.

In response to the outbreak the health ministry called for a widening of the vaccination campaign to include children aged 12 to15 and ordered students to wear masks in schools from Sunday.

Israel expanded vaccine eligibility to include teenagers last month but left the decision up to the preference of parents.

Benny Gantz, the defence minister, has ordered the military and civil defence to renew coronavirus testing efforts and keep open the contact tracing department that was to be shut down.

The health ministry announced on Tuesday it had conducted 49,044 tests in the past day, with a positivity rate of 0.3 per cent.

With travel abroad expected to rise over the summer, Israel's health minister announced the government would impose fines on Israelis who travelled to countries deemed unsafe due to high infection levels.

Over 55 per cent of Israel’s 9.3 million citizens have received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Nearly a third of the new cases in the past week have been vaccinated individuals, and many of the new infections are with the delta variant.

Hezi Levi, the health ministry director-general, told Israel's Channel 12 on Monday that most of the new cases among vaccinated persons are mild, but called on parents to vaccinate their teenage children.

Israel’s coronavirus death toll stands at 6,428, with 25 patients currently reported to be in a serious condition.