Israel 'pass' returns, Indonesia cases up

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett says the
Israeli PM Naftali Bennett says the "green pass" program will be back in force from July 29.

Israel is reintroducing its "green pass" system amid rising COVID-19 infection figures while Indonesia has registered its worst single-day coronavirus-linked death toll.

Authorities in Israel announced plans on Thursday to allow only people who are deemed immune to COVID-19 or have recently tested negative to enter some public spaces such as restaurants, gyms and synagogues.

The government had removed most coronavirus restrictions after a rapid vaccination drive that pushed down infections and deaths.

The easing of restrictions included dropping a "green pass" program that had allowed only people who had been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 to enter some public spaces.

But some measures have already been reinstated, including wearing protective masks indoors and tighter entry requirements for incoming travellers, because of the rapid spread of the more infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

In a further tightening of measures, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office said the Green Pass program would be back in force from July 29, pending government approval.

"The (Green Pass) will apply to cultural and sporting events, gyms, restaurants and dining halls, conferences, tourist attractions and houses of worship," Bennett's office said in a statement after a meeting of his "coronavirus cabinet".

Entrance to events with more than 100 attendees will be allowed only for "the vaccinated, recovered and those with a negative test result who are aged 12 and over".

Under what Bennett calls a policy of "soft suppression," his government wants Israelis to learn to live with the virus - involving the fewest possible restrictions and avoiding a fourth lockdown that could do further harm to the economy.

More than 56 per cent of Israel's 9.3 million population is fully vaccinated and serious cases have remained lower than during previous waves of infection.

Indonesia recorded more than 1449 deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, its worst single-day death toll.

The country reported 49,509 coronavirus cases overnight, taking the total number of confirmed infections to more than three million, according to the Health Ministry.

The overall virus-related death toll stands at 79,032.

Indonesia's daily death toll has been consistently above 1000 since July 16.

"This cannot continue," said Wiku Adisasmito, spokesman for the government's COVID-19 task force.

"They're not just statistics. These are our friends, relatives, colleagues and our loved ones," he told a news conference.

More than 2300 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died while self-isolating at home since last month, half of them in Jakarta, as hospitals were forced to turn away patients, according to LaporCovid-19, a volunteer group that gathers pandemic data.

"The actual number is of course higher as we have not received reports from more provinces," said Fariz Hibban, data analyst at LaporCovid-19.

"We're worried that this is the tip of the iceberg and something that should be immediately addressed to prevent more deaths," he said.

Indonesia has struggled to contain an explosion of COVID-19 cases which has overwhelmed hospitals across the islands of Java and Bali in recent weeks.

Officials have blamed the surge on the highly virulent Delta variant.

On Tuesday, the government extended a partial lockdown, which was first imposed earlier this month, until July 25.

The World Health Organisation urged Indonesia to impose tighter restrictions.

So far, more than 43 million Indonesians have been vaccinated, mostly using the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac, but only 16.9 million have received a second dose.

with DPA

Australian Associated Press