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Israel Defeats New Variant in National COVID-19 ‘War Games’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tells parents there is no reason to not vaccinate their children a day after shots for ages 5-11 approved.
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November 12, 2021
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett monitors progress in the situation room in Jerusalem during a country-wide war games drill to prepare for the outbreak of future COVID-19 variants on Nov. 11, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

(The Media Line) If you haven’t heard of the Omega strain of the coronavirus then you are not alone. That’s because it does not yet exist. But it was the name of the fictitious strain that Israel battled on Thursday during a national COVID-19 war game drill to prepare for a future variant of the deadly virus.

“We are holding a war game drill for a strain of a new variant that does not yet exist but which we are preparing for,” Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the start of the drill from a war room in Jerusalem. We took Israel out of the Delta wave, without even one day of lockdown. Not only is this an important achievement in and of itself but it is also important because it shows that it is possible to do things differently. We have proven that with proper management, it is possible to beat the pandemic.”

Bennett warned that the world is still gripped by the pandemic. “The most threatening thing is not even the current situation but what we do not yet know. Just like the Delta strain broke out violently, other, even more deadly and more infectious strains could come, which could bypass the vaccine,” he said.

Thursday’s coronavirus war games were, according to Bennett, a way to “prepare for any scenario.” The drill helped to “check that all government ministries are ready, that hospitals know how to deal with extreme scenarios and that the scientists are carefully monitoring every variant that appears in the world while it is still small.”

Among the participants in the drill were government ministry director generals, representatives of the professional agencies, the national coronavirus project manager, the director of the Public Health Service, the chairperson of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and representatives of the National Security Council and the Israel Defense Forces, including Home Front Command.

Israel currently is seeing under 500 new cases of the coronavirus each day and about three deaths per day.

The new variant drill came a day after the government’s Pandemic Response Team and the Advisory Committee on Vaccines approved vaccinating children ages 5-11 with a 10 mg dose (instead of a 30 mg. dose) of the Pfizer vaccine. The approval comes in the wake of the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration and the start of a vaccine campaign for children in the United States. The Health Ministry will kick off a vaccination campaign for children after Israel receives the kid-sized doses from the company.

About half of all new cases of the coronavirus in Israel occur in children ages 12 and under.

Bennett on Thursday from the coronavirus war room called on parents to be willing to vaccinate their children.

“There is no reason to leave our children defenseless. There is no reason why a child should infect, and be infected by, others and, under certain conditions, also deal with the side effects of long covid, a series of difficult phenomena, when their entire lives are yet before them. Therefore, I call on parents – vaccinate your children. Safeguard them. Give them the same layer of protection that you have,” he said.

 

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 6 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0) on Thursday.

 

Country

Confirmed Cases Deaths Recovered Active Cases
Afghanistan 156,414 7,291 129,013 20,110
Algeria 207,509 5,960 142,406 59,143
Bahrain 277,138 1,393 275,440 305
Cyprus 124,225 577 90,755 32,893
Djibouti 13,493 186 13,280 27
Egypt 340,269 19,249 284,993 36,027
Iran 6,012,408 127,686 5,643,381 241,341
Iraq 2,066,042 23,415 2,019,444 23,183
Israel 1,335,654 8,133 1,321,071 6,450
Jordan 883,446 11,167 845,283 26,996
Kuwait 412,916 2,462 410,157 297
Lebanon 648,782 8,561 621,821 18,400
Libya 362,915 5,241 311,473 46,201
Mauritania 37,884 805 36,365 714
Morocco 947,761 14,729 929,422 3,610
Oman 304,403 4,113 299,802 488
Pakistan 1,278,751 28,575 1,226,906 23,270
Palestinian Territories 426,051 4,469 417,925 3,657
Qatar 240,557 611 238,392 1,554
Saudi Arabia 549,060 8,807 538,049 2,204
Somalia 22,693 1,294 10,767 10,632
Sudan 40,238 3,099 32,905 4,234
Syria 45,468 2,637 27,217 15,614
Tunisia 715,396 25,294 689,089 1,013
Turkey 8,315,424 72,713 7,793,631 449,080
United Arab Emirates 740,647 2,142 735,173 3,332
Yemen 9,902 1,918 6,595 1,389
Total 26,515,446 392,527 25,090,755 1,032,164

 

Ben Zabelshansky contributed to this report.

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