Israel is rushing up vaccines and locking in hopes of exiting the pandemic in March


© Reuters. Israel imposes third national COVID-19 lockdown


By Dan Williams (NYSE 🙂

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel started on Sunday as officials hope it will be the final coronavirus lockdown as they push vaccinations to a pace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said an outbreak of the pandemic would be by March could be possible.

If this is recognized, it could help Netanyahu's reelection hopes after missteps that include the lifting of an initial ban with an early declaration of victory in May, inconsistent enforcement of curbs, and sluggish economic relief.

Since vaccinations began a week before the European Union was launched on Sunday, Israel's centralized health system has administered 280,000 shots, the fastest rate in the world.

The opening of vaccination stations around the clock is currently being examined. Netanyahu wants the daily rate to double to 150,000 shots by next weekend.

This could allow half of Israel's 9 million people to be vaccinated by the end of January. The country has recorded nearly 400,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,210 deaths.

"Once we're done with this phase, we can emerge from the coronavirus within 30 days, open up the economy and do things that no country can do," Netanyahu said in a televised address.

The Conservative Prime Minister will vote in an election on March 23, which was scheduled this month after the collapse of his ruling coalition.

A poll by the Israel Democracy Institute published on Sunday found that 40.8% of the population gave the government mostly positive ratings for handling the medical aspects of the crisis, while 32.2% gave mostly negative ratings. In economic terms, the government's ratings were 52.8% negative and 19.7% positive.

Sunday's lockdown – the country's third – will last at least three weeks and aims to tackle contagion, which is currently doubling every two weeks, the Ministry of Health said.

The vaccines mean "there is a very high chance this is our final lockdown," Sharon Alroy-Price, acting director of the department's public health services, told Army Radio.

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