According to the new data from the Health Ministry, the number of patients in hospitals in Israel due to serious illness from COVID-19 has reached its all-time highest level since the beginning of the pandemic. On Saturday, the number of serious cases reached 1,229 and it was back in January 2021 that the figure had come close to this level, when seriously ill patients were around 1,193. On Friday, the ministry had diagnosed a total of 37,985 cases and the positivity rate of tests had reached 25.8%. As of 9 p.m. on Saturday, an additional 15,304 cases had returned positive.
The ‘R’ number, which is also known as transmission number that measures the total number of people infected by a carrier, has continued to decline, as it reached a value of 0.88. This rate is calculated based on the data of 10 days earlier and the number below 1 indicates that the pandemic is abating. The death toll in Israel had reached 9,135. A top government adviser and a computational biologist working at the Weizmann Institute, Prof. Eran Segal said that 1 in every 1,000 Israeli had lost their life to COVID-19. He stated that this put Israel on the 47th position in the world in terms of death per capita.
The per capita death rate in the US is almost three times worse. The daily number of deaths in recent days has been hovering around 50. According to Segal, almost two million Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in the Omicron wave. The wave has resulted in the deaths of almost 900 people, which highlights that this variant is less deadly than the previous ones, as there was 1 fatality for every 2,000 cases confirmed. Segal also predicted that serious cases would be between 1,050 and 1,250 within a week and daily cases would be between 30,000 and 40,000.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked was also diagnosed with the coronavirus on Saturday. Just before an interview with the media, Shaked had taken an antigen test and it came back positive. Her office stated that she was feeling well and added that an additional test would be conducted at an official testing station, as per the guidelines of the Health Ministry. The Green Pass requirements were also lifted for the most part by the cabinet on Friday, which eased COVID-19-related restrictions further, as the Omicron wave is slowing down in Israel.
From Monday onwards, a Green Pass would no longer be required for entering hotels, gyms, restaurants and movie theaters. However, entering indoor sites like dance clubs and event halls would still require the Green Pass, as they have a higher rate of infection. These new rules will remain in place till March 1st. There is concern about the sub-variant of Omicron, which is labeled BA.2 and Dr. Dorit Nitzan of the WHO in Europe has said that it is three times more contagious than the original, which had emerged as the most contagious variant so far. While vaccines remain effective in mitigating serious illness, caution still needs to be exercised.