The transmission number in Israel is now over 1, after weeks of a decline in case numbers of the coronavirus. This indicates that the number of cases is expected to increase once more. In addition, it is also an ominous warning of the possibility of Israel moving on the same path as the United Kingdom, where cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed once more. On January 19th, the ‘R’ number had gone below 1 and it was a sign that the Omicron wave that had gripped the country in December was finally coming to an end. The number is a measure of the number of people that are infected by every coronavirus carrier on average.
Since it had gone below 1, it meant that less than one person could be infected by a carrier, which was why case numbers had declined. But, the trend seems to have reversed and the R number has now climbed up to 1.1. The Health Ministry released the latest numbers on Sunday, after using the data of 10 days earlier, as is done when calculating the transmission number. Prof. Ora Paltiel, an epidemiologist at Hebrew University, said that this was probably happening due to the BA.2 variant, which is a sub-variant of the Omicron strain.
She added that the lack of restrictions had also contributed to this increase. She went on to say that the Purim holiday had just been celebrated that involved a lot of gatherings and almost a million people attended the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky. In late February, the government had decided to rollback most of the COVID-19 restrictions with the declining case numbers and the people had gotten less cautious. While the BA.2 strain has proven to be more infectious as compared to Omicron, the jury is still out on its severity. The coronavirus cases are increasing, as is the R number, which means things will get worse.
In late January, the number of daily cases in Israel had peaked. The moving average had reached 75,564 cases on January 26th and had then started declining. It was around 5,582 last week, but the number began increasing to 6,774. Since the emergence of the Omicron variant, the UK has been a couple of weeks ahead of Israel and the statistics for Israel had been calculated by analyzing the data from the UK. Israel is probably not going to see the exact patterns as the UK because they have more measures for putting a stop to the spread.
As far as England is concerned, they have even eliminated mandatory quarantine for those who are infected and people are just requested to stay at home. Meanwhile, Israel requires anyone who is positive to remain in quarantine. Likewise, the indoor mask mandate is still applicable in Israel, but it is not the same in the UK. Furthermore, Israel has also administered fourth shots of the vaccine, which has helped in cutting down serious illness and infection levels, while the UK is just planning on introducing the fourth dose.