Israel’s COVID reproduction rate drops below 1, despite Omicron fears

But many Israelis returning from abroad are failing to test properly, TV report says, meaning strain could yet gain a foothold in the country

The arrivals hall at Ben Gurion Airport, on November 28, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
The arrivals hall at Ben Gurion Airport, on November 28, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Even as concerns remain over the highly mutated Omicron coronavirus variant, Israel’s coronavirus statistics were on an encouraging trajectory Saturday, with the virus reproduction rate dropping below 1 to 0.98.

The figure represents the number of people each confirmed patient infects, on average. Any number below 1 signifies that the pandemic is contracting.

Health Ministry data on Saturday showed that 447 people had been diagnosed the previous day, with the number representing 0.51 percent of the 89,000 tests conducted.

The number of patients in serious condition stood at 111, while the death toll was at 8,199.

Channel 12 news reported that some 16% of Israelis who arrived in the country this week failed to conduct a second coronavirus test three days after their arrival as the government has instructed.

If such a rate is maintained, the network noted, some 18,000 a week could fail to take the test, creating a serious risk that the Omicron strain could enter the country and spread widely.

The Health Ministry has so far confirmed seven cases of the variant in Israel.

The ministry said there were a further 27 coronavirus cases that had not yet been confirmed to be the Omicron strain but that officials had a “high suspicion” was the new variant.

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