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New daily COVID infections continue to rise, to almost 4,000

Serious cases dip slightly; ambulance service to set up rapid-testing stations around country as Green Pass restrictions tightened

Police enforce coronavirus restrictions in Jerusalem on August 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Police enforce coronavirus restrictions in Jerusalem on August 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Health Ministry on Friday reported almost 4,000 new coronavirus cases the previous day, ahead of new restrictions set to take effect next week.

According to ministry figures, 3,843 infections were confirmed Thursday, the fourth day in a row that new cases have passed 3,000. There were 27,525 active cases out of 891,811 verified infections in Israel since the pandemic began.

Serious cases — a key metric used by decision-makers in the current wave — dipped slightly to 253. Of those, there were 65 people in critical condition, with 52 on ventilators. In total, 477 were hospitalized for COVID-19 complications.

The death toll stood at 6,509, with three coronavirus casualties on Thursday.

According to the ministry, 3.79 percent of the over 100,000 tests performed Thursday came back positive.

The ministry also said that out of Israel’s population of some 9.3 million, over 5.8 million have received at least one vaccine dose, nearly 5.4 million have gotten two and just under 350,000 have been administered a booster shot.

Medical personnel take swab samples from travelers at a coronavirus testing station at Israel’s Taba border crossing with Egypt, August 1, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Amid a continued rise in cases, ministers on Thursday approved significantly expanding restrictions on gatherings under the Green Pass system, despite misgivings over an 11th-hour decision to exempt places of worship.

Starting Sunday, gatherings of any size, indoors and out, will be limited to those who have been vaccinated, recovered from the virus, or who present a negative COVID test, under the Green Pass system, which will also extend to hotels, restaurants and gyms.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said Friday that it will begin operating 120 rapid-testing stations across the country for those requiring a negative test result under the Green Pass rules.

While the plan originally included synagogues and other houses of worship, the plan presented to ministers for a vote Thursday night exempted prayer services with fewer than 50 participants, drawing furious criticism from some cabinet members.

The cabinet vote gave final authorization to a decision made Tuesday by the coronavirus cabinet to expand the Green Pass system to all gatherings not merely those with over 100 people, as is currently the case.

The system will be further expanded on August 20 to include children under 12, with the delay necessary in order to allow the Health Ministry to get a testing system in place.

The crowd at a concert in the southern city of Ashdod on August 4, 2021. (by Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The ministry said Thursday that it was beginning a pilot project from next week to provide serological tests to children to discover those who may have had the virus without knowing it and have significant antibody levels.

These children would be included in the Green Pass system and would be exempt from having to go into isolation if exposed to a known virus carrier.

The coronavirus cabinet on Tuesday also approved a series of restrictions under which masks are to be required outdoors for gatherings of 100 people or more; in-office work for public servants is to be scaled back to 50 percent, with the private sector encouraged to allow employees to work from home; and vaccinated caretakers of infected children under 12 years old are to be required to self-isolate.

The new restrictions are an attempt to slow the renewed COVID-19 outbreak, which has been blamed on the fast-spreading Delta variant.

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