Serious COVID-19 cases continue to decline as Omicron further ebbs

Health official says exit from latest wave likely to take weeks; 1,161 hospitalized in serious condition; transmission rate drops to 0.79 — lowest since October

Medical staff wearing safety gear as they work in the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on January 20, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Medical staff wearing safety gear as they work in the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on January 20, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Indications continued on Wednesday that Israel’s Omicron-driven coronavirus infection wave was receding, with declines in all key metrics.

A senior Health Ministry official quoted by Kan news said Wednesday that while the wave of infection, the country’s fifth, was declining, it would likely take several weeks to recede.

Another unnamed senior official quoted by Kan warned that the current wave would not be the last and that the country should be prepared for a possible sixth, as a more lethal mutation of coronavirus is not out of the question.

According to Health Ministry data, some 37,559 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 320,470.

With 154,878 tests conducted on Tuesday, the test positivity rate stood at 24.25%. On Saturday, the country saw its highest positivity rate since the beginning of the pandemic, 28.79%.

The number of serious patients continued the gradual decline seen over the past few days, standing at 1,161. Sunday saw the highest number of serious cases since the onset of the pandemic, 1,263. Of those in serious condition, 273 are on ventilators.

The ministry said serious cases were much more common among the unvaccinated: Among unvaccinated patients aged 60 and up, there were 415.6 serious cases per 100,000 people, compared with only 35.9 for their vaccinated counterparts.

In total, 2,614 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, of whom 350 were in critical condition, according to ministry data.

A healthcare worker takes swab samples from an Israeli child at a COVID-19 drive-through testing site in Modi’in, February 1, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The transmission rate (measuring the average number of people each infected person spreads the virus to) continued to fall, reaching a value of 0.79 — its lowest figure since October. The transmission rate is based on data from 10 days earlier and any value below 1 shows that the pandemic is shrinking. In December the value shot up to 2.12, but has since been on the decline.

The death toll since the start of the pandemic stood at 9,303, with 19 new fatalities on Tuesday. According to ministry data, 291 people died from COVID-19 in the past week.

January was the deadliest month for COVID in the past year and the third-deadliest overall, according to Zman Yisrael, the Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister-site, with 686 deaths. Only January and February of 2021 saw higher tolls, at 1,459 and 935 respectively.

The average age of those who died last month was 80.

An IDF soldier receives a coronavirus vaccine in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

Also Wednesday, the IDF announced that military personnel can now receive a fourth dose of COVID vaccine. Anyone serving in the military who is over 18 and is more than four months past their third dose is now eligible.

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