New daily COVID-19 cases dropped slightly, but still topped 10,000 for the second straight day Tuesday, Health Ministry figures published Wednesday showed, as Israel pushed ahead with kicking off the school year despite concern it could worsen the outbreak.
Providing a rare bright spot, though, the number of patients in serious condition dropped and Israel dropped the dubious distinction of having the highest number of new cases per capita across the globe, falling to fourth place.
Israel on Monday recorded its highest-ever number of cases in a single day, 11,133, amid a massive testing push ahead of the start of school, which began Wednesday.
Another 10,384 new cases were recorded Tuesday, Health Ministry figures showed, while 7,386 more were identified from midnight to early Wednesday evening.
The death toll leapt by 56 since the ministry last updated the figure on Tuesday evening, reaching 7,086.
However, serious cases were down, dropping by 36 since the start of the day Wednesday to 675, with 158 of them on ventilators. The testing positivity rate also dropped slightly compared to previous days, reaching 6.74 percent.
The Health Ministry said over 2.3 million Israelis have received the third COVID vaccine dose — and nearly 6 million have been given at least one shot.
Many of the serious patients continued to be those who have not been fully vaccinated against the virus.
השחקנית עירית קפלן התאשפזה היום במחלקת קורונה במצב קשה. קפלן לא התחסנה. ממיטת חוליה, היא זועקת: ״אני מרגישה שאני מתה. קשה לי לנשום, אני מאבדת כוחות, זה ייסורים אמיתיים. אין צעד בלי תחושת חנק. pic.twitter.com/RjYPbldTGl
— בית חולים איכילוב (@tasmc1) September 1, 2021
Among them was actress Irit Kaplan, 48, according to Ichilov Medical Center, which published a picture of her in a hospital bed and a plea from her urging all Israelis to get immunized against the “cursed disease.”
“I feel like I’m dying, it’s hard for me to breathe, I’m losing strength, it’s real suffering,” she said from her hospital bed, expressing regret for declining the vaccine over fears it would exacerbate her preexisting autoimmune condition.
Israel had the world’s highest seven-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases per million people, according to figures published by the Oxford University-based Our World in Data on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, though, its rolling average of 896 cases per million people dropped it behind Montenegro, Georgia and Kosovo in the global ranking.
Experts have expressed concerns that the opening of schools Wednesday could send infection numbers even higher.
Almost 2.5 million Israeli students from kindergarten to 12th grade started school Wednesday. Some 250,000 students needed to study via Zoom, due to health restrictions, but the Education Ministry said over 90% of students showed up for school on the first day, far exceeding expectations.
A majority of teachers across the country have not been vaccinated with the coronavirus booster shot, according to Channel 13 news.
The Meuchedet HMO said that only 38% of its members who are teachers have received the third dose. In Clalit, the figure was 35% and in Leumit and Maccabi the number was roughly 25%. The government’s current policy is that teachers who are not fully vaccinated with three doses by October 1 will not be allowed to attend classes unless they get tested regularly.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited a school in the southern town of Yeruham and said he would do all in his power to ensure schools stay open, but could not offer guarantees.