Israel to hold COVID-19 ‘war games’ on Thursday

Israel will hold a national exercise on Thursday to assess how prepared the country is for the next COVID-19 outbreak, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The exercise, which according to the PMO will be carried out in the format of a “war game”, has been called “Exercise Omega”.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has regularly referred to the “Omega strain”, the next variant of COVD-19 that has yet to be discovered.

“The State of Israel is in excellent shape, we have overcome the fourth wave and we are about to leave the Delta behind,” said the prime minister. “At the same time, we are always looking to the future.”

Although the Health Ministry reported only 475 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and severe patients have affected fewer than 150, health experts have said another wave could emerge sometime in the winter. Israel has opened up to vaccinated individual tourists and is implementing a scheme for visitors who have only received two injections of the vaccine, which could also lead to new variants entering the country.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the cabinet meeting on the coronavirus, October 3, 2021 (credit: KOBI GIDEON / GPO)

The exercise will include representation from high-level officials and teams from all government ministries and sectors. You will assess preparedness in the areas of health, legal, economic, homeland security, travel, and communication and discuss specific policies on how to handle meetings, quarantine, events, tourism, and more.

The PMO said the exercise will be led by Brigadier General Defense Commissioner (Res.) Moshe Edri and will take place at the National Management Center in Jerusalem. Directors of government ministries and representatives of professional bodies will attend, including senior officials from the Ministry of Health and representatives of the National Security Council, the IDF and the Home Front Command.

“While in some parts of the world, the coronavirus situation is deteriorating, Israel is safe and secure,” Bennett said. “To maintain this, and continue with our daily routines, we must keep our finger on the pulse and prepare for any scenario.”

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