On Wednesday, the Israeli government reported that despite travel restrictions and the quarantine required, the country has recorded its highest-ever number of new COVID-19 infections. This was driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the total number of new cases that were diagnosed numbered 11,978, which marks the highest number of infections to have been reported in a single day in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic. The previous record had been of 11,345 infections on September 2nd that had been logged during the wave of the Delta variant. It appears that the Omicron variant is more contagious than its predecessor.
However, it leads to less severe cases of illness and death amongst patients, especially if they are vaccinated. On Tuesday, the total number of tests that were conducted was around 189,700 and this makes the positivity rate about 6.6%. According to the Health Ministry, there had also been an increase in the ‘R’ number, which indicates how many people on average a positive patient can infect, as it had reached 1.94. A value above 1 indicates the infection is spreading. Previously, only the number of cases had increased, but not the number of seriously ill patients.
But, this also appears to be changing, as Health Ministry figures indicated that 125 patients of the coronavirus were now in serious condition on Wednesday morning, a number that had been 117 a day earlier. Of these patients, about 46 were considered in critical condition. There had been 87 patients in serious condition just a week ago. Most of these people are unvaccinated. Fortunately, there were no deaths due to COVID in Israel in the last 24 hours, so the total death toll was at 8,247. The variant is spreading very quickly in Israel and elsewhere.
It is putting a strain on hospitals, schools and airlines, but experts suggest that the focus should be on hospital admissions. These are not rising as quickly, neither are the number of deaths from the coronavirus. According to experts, this is because of the protection the vaccine has to offer. While there has been a steady increase in the vaccinated population, it is still limited because of the Arab and ultra-Orthodox sectors of the population, who have been slow in rolling up their sleeves. Furthermore, Israel also have a very vocal anti-vaccination lobby. Almost 63% of the population in Israel has gotten two doses of the vaccine.
46% of the people in Israel have gotten all three doses. There is no data available to indicate how many have received the fourth shot of the vaccine that was recently rolled out. Israel has become the first country to introduce a fourth dose to people aged 60 and above, along with medical workers and those with compromised immune systems. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that there was a fivefold increase of antibodies amongst people who are given the fourth shot. These were the conclusions from a study conducted at Sheba Medical Center.