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Schools set to open as scheduled on September 1

Israel’s active COVID cases pass 50,000, just 2 months after they hovered at 200

41 deaths in 24 hours; 531 serious cases; positive test rate highest since February; 500 at-risk kids age 5-11 vaccinated, with mild or no side effects; new travel rules start

Medics with Magen David Adom transfer a coronavirus patient to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, due to full capacity in other hospitals, following a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus infections in Israel, on August 15, 2021. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
Medics with Magen David Adom transfer a coronavirus patient to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, due to full capacity in other hospitals, following a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus infections in Israel, on August 15, 2021. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

The number of serious COVID-19 cases in Israel fell slightly overnight amid hopes that the effect of the third vaccine booster given to older Israelis was beginning to be seen. Meanwhile, active cases in the country rose to over 50,000 after standing at around 200 just two months ago.

Health Ministry data showed there were 531 patients in serious condition, a drop of 7 since midnight. Of the seriously ill, 94 were on ventilators. In total, there were 908 people hospitalized with COVID-19.

The Health Ministry said the rate of serious cases was far higher among unvaccinated Israelis aged 60-plus, who constituted 151.5 people per 100,000 in serious condition on Monday; among the vaccinated the figure was 19.3, and among the partially vaccinated 40.9.

There were 5,083 new infections recorded on Sunday with a further 2,618 cases diagnosed since midnight, taking the number of active cases in the country to 50,693.

The ministry said that 85,503 people were tested on Sunday, with the positivity rate showing a further rise to 6.07 percent — the highest level since February.

There were five fatalities overnight, raising the death toll to 6,673, meaning there were 41 deaths reported in the previous 24 hours.

Israelis wait their turn for a coronavirus vaccine, at Clalit Health Services, one of Israel’s health maintenance organizations, at a cinema complex, in Jerusalem, August 15, 2021 (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Amid rising cases, Israel last month became the first country in the world to begin administering booster shots to those 60 and over, and was a pioneer once again on Friday as it began giving third doses to people 50 and up.

As of Monday morning, 964172 people in Israel had received the booster, while out of Israel’s population of some 9.3 million, over 5.8 million had received at least one vaccine dose, and more than 5.4 million had gotten two.

Meanwhile, new travel restrictions came into effect at midnight listing only 10 countries from which vaccinated or recovered Israelis are able to return without having to quarantine fully and instead only isolate for 24 hours or until receipt of a negative test result.

Those countries are: Austria, Australia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Taiwan, Moldova, New Zealand, China, Singapore and the Czech Republic. Most of those locations are not allowing tourists to enter.

Amid the rising cases and concerns of a further spike in infection when children return to school, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry, said Monday that she believes the start of the academic year will not be delayed and will open on September 1 unless there is a full lockdown.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry, speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem on June 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“In my opinion, there will not be a situation where the economy is open and the school year does not begin,” Alroy-Preis told the Walla news site. “The school year will only not open as usual if we reach the point of needing a lockdown. We are doing everything we can to stop the infections and not reach this point.”

Meanwhile, the Israel Hayom newspaper reported that around 500 children aged 5-11 have received a dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Israel over the past two weeks, with only mild side effects reported in some recipients and the rest showing no side effects at all.

The Health Ministry told Israel’s health providers last month that they can administer coronavirus vaccines to children aged 5-11 who have serious background illnesses that could make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. Authorizations for individual children must be granted by the healthcare provider and then be validated by the ministry. The ministry’s policy is to minimize the number of authorizations and issue them only for those with the highest risk, it said.

The reports came after the Health Ministry said Sunday that Israel will reimpose caps on gatherings that will restrict attendance at private and public events, as well as rules requiring social distancing in businesses that serve customers in person, including stores and shopping malls.

The government is determined to avoid ordering what would be the country’s fourth lockdown since the coronavirus pandemic started, and is pushing vaccinations, along with some restrictions, as a way to confront a tide of infections expected before morbidity drops again.

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