The figures released by the Health Ministry on Friday showed that the number of coronavirus patients currently on ventilators has risen above the 200 marks for the first time since March. This increase was despite researchers claiming that the wave of fresh infections driven by the Delta variant may be reined in soon. The website of the Health Ministry showed that 203 suffering from COVID-19 were on ventilators, out of the total 274 patients who were in critical condition on Friday. A separate statement by the ministry showed that 206 patients were on ventilators.
As opposed to a day earlier, the number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition, including those who were critical, fell slightly, but it was still above 700. The last time the number of patients on ventilators had crossed the 200 mark was March 31st, when 202 people had to be hooked up to breathing machines. This was at the end of a wave of infections due to which 358 people had been put on ventilators on January 25th. While the fourth wave of infections in Israel has seen a record number of cases record daily, the number of people requiring hospitalization has been low as opposed to previous waves.
According to experts, this is because of the high vaccination rates in Israel. Ministry figures indicate that the number of positive cases on Thursday were 6,314, which showed a slowing downtrend, as the total number of active cases declined to 65,432. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the death toll has now reached 7,611. September also became the second month in a row when more than 500 deaths were recorded in Israel, as a total of 529 people have already succumbed to the coronavirus in this month. August, on the other hand, saw 609 people die because of COVID-19.
The majority of new infections as well as serious cases are amongst people who are not vaccinated. The Health Ministry said that 493 people in serious condition hadn’t been vaccinated, as compared to 134 who had received two doses and 55 people who had also received the third booster shot of the vaccine. According to Israeli officials, the country will not run out of ventilators, but the lack of ECMO machines available for sick patients has raised some alarm. On Friday morning, around 41 of the 49 ECMO machines in the country were in use, with 35 of them being used by unvaccinated individuals.
Sheba Medical Center’s head of infectious diseases unit, Prof. Galia Rahav said that they had begun to ration treatment in intensive care units. She said that they had reached a stage where they had to decide who will get treatment in the intensive care unit and it’s the unvaccinated that are prioritized, which is certainly not fair. She also criticized the government for not imposing new restrictions on gatherings, as many of the people in intensive care units had been infected at such gatherings. Government officials have kept restrictions to a minimum because of the relatively low hospitalization rates.