August 18, 2022

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COVID Czar said Israel is Facing Sixth Wave but no Restrictions Expected

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On Wednesday, the coronavirus czar of Israel said that they were now dealing with the sixth wave and assured the public that the government did not have any intention of imposing restrictions again.

A New Wave in Israel

Salman Zarka, who is responsible for managing Israel’s response to the pandemic, said that the latest wave had mostly affected at-risk populations, especially people over the age of 60. He also added that the current spike in cases was not as serious as the last wave.

According to Zarka, the latest wave of cases in Israel was because of the BA.5 sub-variant of the Omicron and it has been identified in almost half of the cases that came back positive. On Wednesday, the data released by the Health Ministry showed that more than 10,000 cases of COVID-19 had been identified in Israel for the third consecutive day.

On Tuesday, 10,845 cases had been diagnosed, with an additional 5,413 confirmed after midnight and as of Wednesday evening, the total number of active cases in Israel had reached 56,249. On Tuesday, the total number of tests conducted was 34,611 and 35% of them had come back positive. The number of people in serious condition stood at 201, which included 49 people who were critical.

The death toll in Israel had climbed to 10,911 since the beginning of the pandemic, after 15 people succumbed to the virus in the previous week.

The R Number Falls

Despite the rise in cases, the ‘R’ number, which is also called the reproduction number, declined to 1.28. Earlier this month, it had climbed to 1.52. The number is calculated based on the data of 10 days before and measures the number of people that are infected on average by a virus carrier. If the number is above 1, then it means the disease is spreading and below 1 shows it is abating.

Halfway through May, the transmission number had begun to move past the 1 mark, after staying below the threshold for about two months. However, the last few days have seen the number start declining, which shows that the numbers may eventually come down.

No New Restrictions

Even though Zarka said that no new restrictions would be imposed in Israel, he urged the people to begin wearing masks indoors again, especially when taking public transportation, or flights. He added that if the number of serious cases continues to rise, then the Health Ministry may have to consider mandating masking indoors.

This mandate had previously been lifted on April 24th, one of the last restrictions to have been removed. An unnamed official had said on Sunday that the decision about imposing the mask requirement again would be made in the coming week.

Zarka also added that due to the rising number of cases in Israel, hospitals all over the country had been forced to open their COVID-19 wards once more. He added that they were hoping to avoid a severe wave as that of the Omicron.

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