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

A national exercise called the “Omega Exercise” will be held on Thursday to prepare the country for the next coronavirus outbreak.

 Shaare Zedek hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on September 23, 2021. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Shaare Zedek hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on September 23, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

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

The exercise, which the office said will be held in the format of a “war game,” has been named the “Omega Exercise.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has regularly referred to the “Omega strain,” the next COVD-19 variant that has not yet been discovered.

“The State of Israel is in excellent shape. We have beaten the fourth wave, and we are on the verge of leaving the Delta [variant] behind,” the prime minister said. “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 serious patients have dipped under 150, health experts have said that another wave could surface sometime in the winter.

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

Israel is allowing in individual vaccinated tourists and is rolling out an outline for visitors who have had only two shots of the vaccine, which also could lead to new variants entering the country.

The exercise will include representation from senior-level officials and teams from across ministries and sectors. It will evaluate preparedness in the health, legal, economic, internal security, travel and communication realms, and will look at specific policies for how to handle gatherings, quarantine, events, tourism and more.

The office said that the exercise will be led by Defense Commissioner Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Edri and held at the National Management Center in Jerusalem.

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