Israel re-introduces mask requirement after two fresh virus outbreaks

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Israel has re-introduced the requirement that people wear protective face masks in certain areas, after two new coronavirus outbreaks at schools, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

Masks are required indoors and outdoors in the Binyamina area south of Haifa and in Modiin-Makkabim-Reut.

The move comes five days after Israel lifted the requirement for people to wear masks, as infection numbers have fallen nationwide.

However, in a school in Binyamina, 45 students tested positive for coronavirus, and there were around a dozen new cases in Modiin, located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The outbreaks at the schools are both said to be associated with people returning from travel abroad, and the more contagious delta variant of the virus, according to media reports.

Two weeks ago, Israel began vaccinating teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 against Covid-19.

Israel, a country of 9 million, started its inoculation campaign in December. Nearly 5.5 million have received their first jab and more than 5.1 million are fully vaccinated.

New infections and cases of severe illness have fallen sharply in recent months, with only 22 people who are seriously ill, down from some 1,200 at the end of January.

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