The statistics released by the Health Ministry on Tuesday morning showed that there were more than 14,000 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed on Monday in Israel. This is the highest number of cases recorded in a month. The total number of active cases of the coronavirus in Israel had risen to 57,152, after 14,460 new cases were confirmed. There were 786 patients in hospitals, out of which 320 of them were in serious condition and 138 patients were put on ventilators. The latest statistics also showed that the ‘R’ number in the country had climbed to 1.33, which was an increase from a week earlier when it had been 0.9, and was also the highest since January.
Sheba Medical Center’s director of infectious diseases, Prof. Gili Rahav said that part of the increase in new cases is driven by the sub-variant of Omicron i.e. the BA.2 variant. Rahav said that there were still people in Israel who had not been infected and they would be the most vulnerable. Furthermore, she added that most of the general public believes that the coronavirus pandemic is behind us, due to which they have lowered their guard. But, she said that it still wasn’t behind us and could lead to more infections.
Since the pandemic broke out in Israel in March 2020, about 40% of the country’s population, which means around 3.8 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. According to Rahav, the number might be closer to 50%. She added that those who had been infected by the Omicron variant were likely safe from the new variants, but the same was not applicable in the case of patients who have been infected with the Alpha or Delta variant. At the end of the fifth wave of coronavirus in Israel, there are only a few restrictions that are still applicable.
People no longer have to provide proof of vaccination to enter any events and there is no restriction on the size of gatherings. Likewise, unvaccinated tourists are also allowed in the country. The indoor mask requirement is the only major restriction still applicable. Last week, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had said after a COVID consultation meeting that the indoor mask requirement would stay in place for another month. He said they would reexamine the issue before the Passover holiday. After last week’s Purim holiday, the number of cases has risen and this is a cause for concern.
For now, the number of serious cases remains steady, but when new cases go up, hospitalizations tend to lag behind a little. A health official said that they were not optimistic because the figures don’t include the impact of Purim parties as yet. The official said that the at-risk population would require hospitalization within a week. A member of the coronavirus advisory team of the government, Dr. Arnon Shahar said that he believes serious cases would increase in Israel. But, he added that there wasn’t any indication that the BA.2 variant was more dangerous than Omicron itself.