On Saturday, signs that COVID-19 is once again on the rise continued in Israel, as the basic reproduction number of the virus known as the R-number climbed to 1.2. This number indicates the number of people every COVID-19 positive patient infects. If the R number climbs over 1, it is considered an indication of spreading infection. On Saturday, the Health Ministry data showed that the number of people who tested positive for the virus was 497. A total of 77,000 tests were conducted on the day and the positivity rate was about 0.65%. The number of patients in hospitals was around 176.
There was also an increase in the number of patients in serious condition, as the number stood at 133 on Saturday, making it seven higher than Friday. According to the data, 83.3% of the serious patients have not gotten vaccinated. Nachman Ash, the Director-General of the Health Ministry said that they were concerned about the increase in the number of cases, but stated that they did not have any immediate plans of imposing restrictions as yet. He said that the rise was definitely worrying, particularly with the R number going over 1, but he said that their focus was to increase vaccines and not impose restrictions.
Meanwhile, reports indicated that the plans for celebrations of the Hanukkah holiday in early December would be scheduled by the Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett. According to the report, it is likely that the scheduled events will move forward and the focus would be on requiring the Green Pass for attendance. This document indicates that an individual has tested negative for the coronavirus, or is vaccinated and allows entry to events and venues. Top health officials in Israel said on Friday that the unvaccinated people were mostly responsible for the new COVID-19 cases, as the R number had reached 1 for the first time after early September.
Nitzan Horowitz, the Health Minister said that in recent days, the number of declining infections in Israel since the peak of the fourth wave had stopped, but he said that there wasn’t an increase in morbidity. Horowitz said that majority of the new infections were seen in unvaccinated people and the R-number was rising because Israelis were not following government rules regarding COVID-19. The reports indicate that 50% of the cases are amongst children below the age of 11, who haven’t been vaccinated yet. Earlier on Friday, Bennett said that vaccination of children between 5 and 11 would start from Tuesday.
The Health Ministry’s head of public health services, Sharon Alroy-Preis said that 76% of the new cases were amongst people who hadn’t gotten vaccinated. She disclosed that a further 12% of cases were in people who hadn’t received the booster shot. She also added that health ministry officials were monitoring the morbidity figures. She said that they were worried and watching, but were not going to get hysterical. She went on to say that they wouldn’t mandate vaccinations like Austria, but did say that restrictions could be imposed on travel to Europe.