According to the Health Ministry, as of Thursday, the number of deaths passed the 9,000 mark, as the past 24 hours saw 87 people lose their lives. This pushed the total death toll to 9,013. Between Wednesday and Thursday, the total cases of the coronavirus that were diagnosed in the country stood at 58,472. This also drove the country past the three million mark in terms of infections reported since the start of the pandemic. According to experts, the true number of cases in Israel is probably higher. On January 19th, the total number of cases in Israel had reached two million, which means that the past couple of weeks have seen one-third of the total confirmed cases in Israel being recorded.
However, the ministry did not disclose as to how many of these were re-infections. According to the statistics, the total number of active cases in Israel stands at 475,117. The total number of people in quarantine is about 78,000 and there are 2,753 patients who are currently in hospitals all over Israel. On Thursday morning, the number of patients in serious condition was steady at 1,096, as opposed to the 1,086 seen on Wednesday morning. There were 258 patients in serious condition who were on ventilators.
The transmission rate of the virus, known as the ‘R’ number, continued to decline steadily, as it reached 0.9 and showed the slowing down of the current wave. This reproduction number is calculated based on the data of 10 days earlier and a value below 1 shows that the virus is abating. Nonetheless, just as Israel seems prepared to finally put the massive wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant behind it, there is a new worry in the form of the BA.2 variant, which has given rise to some health concerns.
The Health Ministry’s head of public health services, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis revealed on Wednesday that they had discovered about 300 cases of the new variant in the country. This information was disclosed during a meeting of the Knesset Health Committee and she stated that the cases had mostly been discovered in people coming from abroad. However, she denied previous reports of Omicron patients getting re-infected and said that there wasn’t even one case of re-infection in patients who had recovered from the Omicron variant. She went on to say that contracting a similar virus is unlikely in those who have recovered unless the strain is different enough that antibodies would not offer any protection.
According to experts, even though the BA.2 variant does seem to be even more contagious than the Omicron, it does not lead to more serious illness. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the next week and a half would be quite difficult for Israel. Changes were also made to the Green Pass requirement on Tuesday by the coronavirus cabinet, as this document would only be needed at ‘high-risk’ events. These new guidelines will go into effect from Sunday night and the Green Pass would only be needed or weddings, large parties and clubs.