According to the figures provided by the Health Ministry of Israel on Saturday, the ‘R’ number in the country has surpassed 1. It appears that daily infection numbers are once more on the rise, which has pushed the transmission rate of the virus past the 1 mark, which makes it a first after happening back in January. The transmission rate measures the number of people that can be infected by a patient of the coronavirus on average. If the number goes beyond 1, it indicates that the virus is spreading. This latest development in Israel comes as increasing cases are giving rise to concerns of a resurgence of the pandemic.
The Health Ministry data showed that there were 7,080 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed on Friday, which is the highest number of cases in a single day seen in more than 10 days. This pushed the R number to a value of 1.02 on Saturday, which is calculated based on the data of the last 10 days. In recent days, there has been a constant rise in the number of daily cases. On Saturday, the total number of active cases in Israel had reached 43,600. There were 326 cases that were in serious condition, out of which 133 patients had been put on ventilators.
The death toll in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic has reached 10,417. One of the advisers who is part of the government’s coronavirus cabinet and a professor at the Weizmann Institute, Eran Segal said that it appeared that there was an increase in new cases, which could lead to a spread of the virus. He added that this trend could also be seen in some European countries. According to Segal, it is likely that this resurgence in cases is because of the Omicron sub-variant known as BA.2 and it is considered to be highly infectious.
Segal added this could possibly be because the public had gone back to a completely normal routine and there wasn’t a lot of strictness. He stated that the sub-variant was just as violent as the Omicron, which means less than the Delta strain and the original variants. He also said that almost half of Israel’s population had been infected by the Omicron variant and while the BA.2 does infect those who have already contracted Omicron, the chances are low. He said that once these variables are taken into account, if a new wave was to emerge in Israel, it would not be on the same scale as that of the Omicron variant.
Some people have been re-infected with the BA.2 variant after getting infected with Omicron. While research about the severity of the variant is mixed, it appears that the vaccines are just as effective against it. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had announced on Wednesday that the indoor mask mandate would remain in place in Israel for at least another month. Most of the other restrictions that were placed due to COVID-19 have been removed already, but a rise in cases could bring some of them back.