On Monday, Israeli hit a new record of daily COVID-19 cases, as 21,501 new cases had been recorded on Sunday. The number of serious cases also went up to reach 222 and the death toll had increased by 10 to stand at 8,269. With the Omicron variant surging throughout the country, new testing guidelines have been issued by the Health Ministry for antigen kits. These dictate that people should take the test three days after they have come into contact with an infected person. This is because early tests may turn out to be false negatives.
In addition, the guidelines dictate that the swab should also be used in the mouth first and then in a nostril. The same swab should be used and it should not only be limited to one nostril, which is what the test instructions usually say. According to officials, taking these steps would offer more accurate results. The guidelines went on to add that anyone who gets a positive result at home should then visit an antigen testing station for double checking their results. If both of these come back positive, then they would have to take a PCR test for confirmation and then enter quarantine.
According to the reports on Monday, ministers were contemplating cutting down the quarantine duration from 10 days to seven for those who are infected. The cabinet gave its approval on Monday to put an end to the requirements for Green Pass to enter large stores in malls. There had been heavy criticism from businesses towards this measure and they had also questioned if the limitation was actually helpful in preventing infection. Now, stores will be required to limit the number of customers inside the store at a time, depending on the floor area. Nachman Ash, the Director-General of the Health Ministry, urged people to stay at home if they feel ill.
He said that people should stay at home, even if they get negative antigen test results because of the high morbidity and the lower accuracy of these tests. He said that even if they have a bit of a cough or just a runny nose, it is best to stay at home. Ash also said that antigen tests were running short at pharmacies and added that authorities were doing everything possible to increase the supply. On Monday morning, the total number of active cases in Israel was around 131,968. There was also an increase in the test positivity rate, as it hit 13.3%.
According to experts, there are a lot of cases in Israel that remain undetected because the new testing rules are now giving priority to those at risk, or over the age of 60. The officials have also said that Israel is dealing with the fast-spreading Omicron variant, along with the dangerous Delta variant as well. They have also expressed fears that a rise in flu cases could lead to the health system becoming overwhelmed because these patients are also taking up room in the hospitals. The government is urging people to get vaccinated and those aged 5 and above are all eligible for it.