On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported that there was a record number of coronavirus infections in Israel for the second day in a row, due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. On Wednesday, the total number of positive cases diagnosed was 16,115, which marks the highest level of infections recorded in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic. Previously, a new record had been established on Tuesday with total infections about 12,554 diagnosed in a single day. Before that, the record of highest cases in a single day had been 11,345 that occurred on September 2nd during the Delta variant wave.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had warned that there would likely be 20,000 cases recorded daily in Israel starting from the end of the week. In fact, he said that the peak of the wave could see 50,000 cases being recorded daily. This is due to the fact that the Omicron strain seems to be a lot more contagious than the previous one, even though it does not cause severe illness and death the same way, particularly amongst vaccinated people. With the new variant driving another wave of infections in the country, the positive test rate had reached 7.89%.
According to the Health Ministry, the ‘R’ number, which is the virus transmission number, indicating how many people a positive person can infect, has also risen to reach 1.99. This rate takes account of data of 10 days earlier and a rate higher than 1 shows that the virus is spreading. As the number of cases are increasing, the number of patients in seriously ill conditions has also gone up. The statistics from the Health Ministry indicate that as of Thursday morning, there were 134 patients in serious condition, which was an increase from 133 a day earlier.
Of these people, 51 of them were in critical condition. There had only been 91 patients in serious condition a week ago. At the peak of the Delta wave, there had been about 700 patients in serious condition. The majority of these patients are those who are not inoculated. The media reported that experts have notified the premier that the wave would hit its peak in three weeks. Unsourced reports indicate that the number of serious cases are expected to hit 1,200, similar to the fourth wave of the virus that was driven by the Delta variant.
However, another unsourced report indicated that some experts believe the number of serious cases could reach 2,500 in the next few weeks. Reports indicate that Bennett has informed health chiefs to prepare for a scenario that could lead to 4,000 serious cases. In the last 24 hours, two new fatalities were recorded and this took the death toll to 8,253. The variant is spreading very quickly in Israel, as well as elsewhere. It has put a strain on airlines, hospitals, and schools. While the number of vaccination rates have been rising, these are limited to a few segments of the population because there is also a vocal anti-vaccination lobby.