On Thursday, the total number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition in Israel dropped below the 100 mark, which is the lowest it has been since July, even though there were still concerns about the Omicron variant of the disease. According to the data provided by the Health Ministry, there were around 96 people who were still in serious condition because of the coronavirus on Thursday evening and 55 of these patients were on ventilators. The last time such a low number of serious cases were recorded in the country was on July 24th. In the previous month, the number has dropped seriously, as it stood at 157 on November 9th.
As far as the death toll in the country is concerned, it was around 8,210, as the ministry disclosed that no one had succumbed to the disease in the country in the last 72 hours. There are five people who have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the last seven days. On Wednesday, the total number of new cases diagnosed in the country stood at 651. Since midnight, an additional 153 cases were diagnosed, which took the total number of coronavirus cases in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic to 1,348,486. As for the number of active cases in the country, they stood at 5,971.
The Health Ministry disclosed that more than 100,000 tests had been conducted in Israel on Wednesday and this showed a positivity rate of 0.69%. However, it should be noted that the virus reproduction number, which is known as the ‘R’ number, has been steadily climbing in the last week and has gone past 1. On Wednesday, this number was 1.09, which means that every infected person will infect at least one more person on average. When this number is above 1, it shows that the pandemic is spreading.
Along with other countries, Israel is also grappling with worries about the spread of the recently discovered and apparently highly contagious Omicron variant that was initially discovered in South Africa. Israel already has about 21 cases of the Omicron variant. The emergence of this new variant has resulted in global travel bans and prompted Israel to also shut its borders to foreign tourists, which it had opened just last month. Travel restrictions that were imposed till December 11th have now been extended by the Prime Minister and Health Minister of Israel. The quarantine rules imposed on Israelis coming from abroad have also been tightened by the government, including vaccinated travelers.
They have also given approval for phone tracking of all suspected cases, which is a controversial measure they used in the beginning of the pandemic. However, there haven’t been an increase in hospitalizations because of the new variant that experts had feared would happen. Israel’s central tactic for dealing with the virus has been to make vaccination a priority. Last month, it initiated a campaign for vaccinating kids between the 5 and 11 age group in order to give protection to as much of the population as possible.