Israel began a national drill on Thursday to test the country’s preparedness for the outbreak of a new, more lethal variant of the COVID-19 virus.

The exercise, which is being conducted from a situation room in Jerusalem in the format of a war game, is designed to test national management of a new “Omega” strain, according to an official statement.

The drill will test the country’s ability to coordinate and manage things like local/regional lockdowns, monitoring and oversight of the new variant, including vaccine testing, providing economic support for the population and ensuring that the education system can successfully adjust.

“The State of Israel is in an excellent situation. We beat the fourth wave and we are on our way to exiting the Delta variant,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, according to the statement.

“At the same time, however, we are always looking ahead and preparing for the continuation of the campaign. We are not ‘closing up shop.’ Neither are we closing down the management systems and the order of battle against the virus. On the contrary, we are continuing to hold drills and to challenge ourselves,” he added.

With the situation in much of the rest of the world worsening with respect to the pandemic, said Bennett, “Israel is safe and protected.” But, he added, “to maintain this and safeguard the continuity of normal life, we must continue to closely monitor the situation and prepare for any scenario.”


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