The coronavirus death toll in Israel surpassed 7,000, Health Ministry statistics showed Monday evening, marking a grim reminder of the human toll wrought by the renewed onslaught of COVID-19.
According to the latest figures, 7,043 Israelis with COVID-19 have died since the start of the pandemic. Israel’s first COVID death was registered in March 2020, and a year later, the country marked its 6,000th death.
Israel went several weeks without a death in May as a vaccination drive helped all but halt infections, but recent weeks have seen mortality figures rocket. More than 550 people have died of COVID in August, over 100 of them in the last five days alone.
On average over the past month, 18 people with COVID-19 died per day, and 24 deaths were registered on Sunday. During the entire month of June, just seven COVID deaths were recorded.
Worldwide, the death toll from the virus stands at nearly 4.5 million, according to the World Health Organization.
Earlier Monday, Health Ministry figures showed the highest positivity rate on Sunday among those tested for the virus since mid-February. Of the 91,051 tests conducted Sunday, 7.81% returned positive, compared to a positivity rate of 5.38% two weeks ago, and 2.84% one month ago.
Meanwhile, healthcare providers are continuing their rapid rollout of vaccine booster shots, after the third doses were approved for the entire population over 12. As of Sunday evening, 2,102,426 Israelis — close to 23% of the population — had received a third shot.
Among those aged 70-79, more than 80% have received a booster, compared to 66% of those ages 60-69 and 49% of those ages 50-59. More than 16% of Israelis between 30 and 39 — who became eligible for the third dose less than a week ago — have already received the shot.
Researchers and Health Ministry officials have said that the booster dose campaign is already helping stem the rise in new serious COVID cases, although daily infections show little sign of waning, and some expect numbers to rise even further after schools open nationwide Wednesday.
Health Ministry officials announced on Sunday that the boosters were available for all those who received their second vaccine dose at least five months ago.
The officials also revealed that, starting October 1, the “Green Pass” system — which allows entry to most public places to those vaccinated or recovered — would only apply for six months following either the second or third dose.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.