Serious COVID-19 cases in Israel drop below 100 for first time in 4.5 months

After a major outbreak driven by the Delta strain and amid fears of a potential Omicron outbreak, Health Ministry says figure at lowest point since late July

Empty beds are seen in a coronavirus ward at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, on October 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Empty beds are seen in a coronavirus ward at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, on October 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition dropped below 100 on Thursday, the lowest level since July, despite concerns over the highly mutated Omicron coronavirus variant.

According to Health Ministry data, there were 96 people whose condition was defined as serious as of Thursday evening, with 55 of them on ventilators.

The last time there were that few serious cases was on July 24. The number has been steadily dropping over the past month from 157 on November 9.

The death toll stood at 8,210, with no one succumbing to the disease in the previous 72 hours, the ministry said. Over the past seven days, five people died of COVID-19.

There were 651 new coronavirus cases diagnosed in the country on Wednesday, with a further 153 since midnight, taking the total number since the pandemic began to 1,348,486. There were 5,971 active cases.

According to the ministry, more than 100,000 coronavirus tests were conducted Wednesday, with 0.69 percent returning positive.

Health care staff test for COVID-19 at a drive-through complex in Modi’in, November 10, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Still, the virus reproduction number, R, was given as 1.09, having steadily climbed from 1 over the past week. This means that on average, every patient infects more than one other person. Any value above 1 shows that the pandemic is growing.

Israel, along with the rest of the world, has grappled with concerns over the spread of the new and apparently highly contagious Omircon variant of the virus. So far, at least 21 cases have been confirmed in Israel.

The emergence of Omicron, first detected in South Africa, has prompted global travel bans and led Israel to again shut its doors to foreigners. The government also tightened quarantine rules for fully vaccinated Israelis returning to the country and approved phone tracking of suspected virus carriers, a controversial measure that has since lapsed.

However, experts are so far not seeing a major spike in hospitalizations that had been feared as the strain emerged.

Israel has made vaccination its central tactic in dealing with the virus, last month adding children aged 5-11 to older groups already eligible to get the shots.

So far, of the country’s roughly 9.5 million residents, 6,389,878 have had at least one dose, of whom 5,786,594 have had a second shot and 4,112,353 a third.

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