Health officials said to warn country will soon break own record for serious cases

While seriously ill patients currently number 871, health officials tell COVID czar number will climb past peak of 1,200 seen in previous wave; hospitals said running out of beds

A medical worker wearing safety gear in the coronavirus ward of the Herzog Medical Center in Jerusalem, January 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A medical worker wearing safety gear in the coronavirus ward of the Herzog Medical Center in Jerusalem, January 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Health officials reportedly believe that Israel will soon break its previous record for serious COVID-19 cases, which experts fear could overwhelm the hospital system.

The previous record was set during last year’s Delta wave when some 1,200 Israelis were designated to be seriously ill at one time. That figure, as of Tuesday evening, was 871, but Channel 12 reported that experts in the Health Ministry are convinced that the number will rise above the previous record.

These officials expressed their concerns to coronavirus czar Salman Zarka during a situational assessment earlier Tuesday as they also warned that the ballooning numbers were already overwhelming the hospital system, Channel 12 said.

They also presented Zarka with internal figures that relied on a more liberal definition of “seriously ill patients.” According to that barometer, the number of serious cases in Israel — 2,794 — has already passed the record set during the last wave of the pandemic — 2,963.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said earlier Tuesday that as COVID cases continue to skyrocket, “we’re reaching the edge of the capabilities of intensive care units.”

Kaplan Medical Center near Rehovot was forced to close its emergency room for a few hours earlier this week because the hospital was overwhelmed, Channel 12 reported, adding that other hospitals were also struggling to cope. Some patients were being transferred from hospital to hospital due to the crowding, it said.

Coronavirus czar Salman Zarka attends a press conference about the coronavirus, in Jerusalem on August 29, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

In addition to the limited number of beds, hospitals are also trying to cope with roughly 10,000 medical personnel nationwide who are unable to work after contracting COVID or have been forced into quarantine upon exposure, the network said.

However, Eran Segal, a top government COVID adviser told the network that the morbidity rate in Israel is currently at its peak and that new cases will begin falling in the coming weeks. He admitted though that serious cases will rise in the nearer future.

Health Ministry statistics released on Tuesday night showed 83,646 new infections recorded a day earlier, the second day in a row with over 83,000 fresh cases. With more than 439,000 PCR and antigen tests carried out on Monday, the positivity rate stood at 21.83%.

As of Tuesday evening, 488,507 Israelis were actively infected, with 2,256 hospitalized.

In the past week, 132 Israelis with COVID died, bringing the total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 8,502. Over the past two weeks, some 900,000 Israelis have tested positive for COVID, though experts believe that the actual figure could be several times higher.

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