Israel sees 70,000 new COVID cases, with 638 hospitalized in serious condition

Those who receive booster dose continue to be better protected against serious COVID symptoms; ministry reports a 67% rise is cases from previous week

An Ezer Mizion volunteer wearing safety gear visits a patient in the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, on January 20, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
An Ezer Mizion volunteer wearing safety gear visits a patient in the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, on January 20, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry updated its coronavirus figures on Friday, revealing that nearly 70,000 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19 the day before, with the number of patients in serious condition climbing to 638.

Total active cases rose to 427,023 and 1,758 Israelis were hospitalized in all, with 123 of them on ventilators.

At least 9,867 medical staff were sidelined after contracting COVID themselves, including 1,379 doctors and 2,916 nurses, the ministry said.

Among those hospitalized in serious condition due to the coronavirus, 55% had received a booster shot, 24% were not vaccinated at all and the remainder were partially vaccinated or previously recovered from COVID.

Those who received the third, booster dose of the vaccine still remained better protected against serious COVID symptoms, Health Ministry data showed, adding that Israelis over the age of 60 were 85% boosted, while Israelis over 60 who were hospitalized in serious condition were only 60% boosted.

Just over 20% of tests came back positive, including 22.5% of the PCR samples and 18.4% of the rapid antigen samples.

Hospital staff wear safety gear as they work in a coronavirus ward of Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, on January 18, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The Health Ministry also released 7-day figures which showed 436,028 new cases during that time period — a 67% rise from the week before. Serious cases totaled 775 — a 130.7% rise from the previous week. COVID-related deaths added up to 58 — a 34.9% rise from the previous week.

COVID data from Wednesday showed that Israel was leading the world in new daily COVID-19 cases per capita.

Speaking to Channel 12 news, a top health expert advising the government cited figures from Our World in Data showing that 0.6% of the population was testing positive per day.

The numbers comparing each country’s seven-day running average put Israel at the top, Prof. Eran Segal of The Weizmann Institute said.

But Segal noted it was likely that Israel was not truly the country with the highest infection rate. Rather, he attributed the figures to Israel being a leading country in the number of tests performed each day, relative to its population size.

Israel is followed in the highest daily cases worldwide ranking by Mongolia, Peru, Canada and Georgia.

A health worker inoculates a man with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19, at a vaccination center in Quito, on January 17, 2022 (Cristina Vega Rhor/AFP)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced Thursday that mandatory quarantine for schoolchildren who were exposed to coronavirus carriers would be scrapped entirely.

According to the plan, starting next Thursday, children up to the age of 18 will no longer need to isolate after being exposed.

Instead, all students — both vaccinated and unvaccinated — will need to conduct two antigen tests a week — on Sundays and Wednesdays — and present negative results when entering educational institutions.

Children who test positive for COVID-19 will still need to isolate until testing negative.

The testing will be done at home, with Bennett announcing that “millions” of test kits will be given out to parents.

The move comes as some 146,000 school-age children were in quarantine due to infection, and a further 142,000 due to exposure, according to Health Ministry data published Wednesday.

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