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Daily COVID infections hit 6-week high, with 786 new cases

Positive test rate at 0.75%, highest in over two weeks; majority of 5,981 active patients are schoolchildren

Children aged 5-11 receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, at a vaccination center in Safed, northern Israel, December 3, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Children aged 5-11 receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, at a vaccination center in Safed, northern Israel, December 3, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The number of COVID-19 cases confirmed on Tuesday was the highest in six weeks, with children accounting for more than half of the diagnoses, according to the Health Ministry figure released Wednesday morning.

There were 786 new cases found that day, the third day in a row that the figure had climbed. The last time the numbers were that high was on October 25, when 929 new patients were diagnosed.

The positive test rate for the virus was 0.75 percent on Tuesday, the highest it has been in over two weeks.

In addition, the virus reproduction number, R, was given as 1.07, having steadily climbed from 1 over the past four days. Any value above 1 shows that the pandemic is growing.

The numbers came as hundreds of thousands of Israeli schoolchildren returned this week from Hanukkah vacation. All preschoolers and children in grades 1-6 were required to present a negative rapid antigen test for COVID-19 when returning to the classroom.

Of the 5,981 activities cases in the country, 3,674 are students in the school system. Among those diagnosed Tuesday, 56% are under the age of 11, and 12% are aged 12-15 according to the Ynet news site. The positive test rate for school-age children, at 1.1%, was higher than the national average.

There were 102 patients in serious condition, though the number has been steadily dropping over the past month from 157 on November 9.

The death toll stood at 8,210, with no one succumbing to the disease in the previous 24 hours, the ministry said. Over the past seven days, eight people died of COVID-19.

The rise in the numbers came as Israel, along with the rest of the world, has grappled with the spread of the new and highly contagious Omircon variant of the virus. So far, at least 21 cases have been confirmed in Israel.

The emergence of Omicron, first detected in South Africa, has prompted global travel bans and led Israel to again shut its doors to foreigners. The government also tightened quarantine rules for fully vaccinated Israelis returning to the country and approved phone tracking of suspected virus carriers, a controversial measure that has since lapsed.

Israel has made vaccination its central tactic in dealing with the virus, last month adding children aged 5-11 to older groups already eligible to get the shots.

So far, of the country’s roughly 9.5 million residents, 6,384,685 have had at least one dose, of whom 5,785,098 have had a second shot and 4,108,460 a third.

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