A report was released on Thursday showing that the number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Israel in January was higher than the total number of cases recorded in the entirety of 2021. According to the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center, the total number of cases recorded last year was around 960,500. In comparison, as of Wednesday, the number of coronavirus cases in January had already reached the 1,160,000 mark. The widely-spreading Omicron variant has been blamed for the huge rise in the number of cases. According to the data published by the Health Ministry on Thursday, the total number of cases diagnosed on Wednesday was around 67,723.
On Wednesday, more than 307,000 antigen and PCR tests were conducted, which brought the positivity rate in the country to 24.58%. The total number of Israelis infected by Thursday afternoon was 480,501 and there were 2,483 patients who were hospitalized. These included 931 patients in serious condition, while 212 of them had to be put on ventilators. Just a week ago, the total number of serious cases had been 587 and the figure had been 283 just two weeks ago. In the last week alone, almost 520,000 people in Israel have tested positive for the coronavirus and experts believe that the actual figure is much higher.
There have also been 146 COVID-related deaths in Israel in the past week, which is an increase of 73.8%. This has led to an increase in the death toll to 8,541. The average weekly death toll a month ago had been less than 10. Due to an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced a plan on Thursday that would immediately add about 45 more beds in the intensive care units in all medical centers in Israel.
According to a statement released by the prime minister’s office, Bennett said that the health system was working round the clock for safeguarding the health of the public. Therefore, they would now strengthen the intensive care wards and added that they were close to the wave’s peak and would get through it together. There was 82.1% hospital occupancy throughout the nation by Thursday afternoon. However, 9,800 medical personnel had also tested positive for COVID-19 and this included 2,793 nurses and 1,282 doctors. Beginning from Thursday, the mandatory quarantine for schoolchildren has been scrapped.
The children would not be required to quarantine even after coming in contact with a COVID-19 carrier, as long as they can present two negative antigen test results taken on Sundays and Wednesdays. This plan went into effect despite concerns from health officials that more children could end up in hospitals because of coronavirus complications. Initially, health officials had been in support of the scheme, but the increase in children hospitalizations and the occurrence of a rare condition called PIMs, which is dangerous and seen in children recovered from COVID-19, prompted them to change their mind. Health Ministry’s Director-General, Nachman Ash said that health experts were being subjected to personal attacks, particularly after the plan went into effect.