Highest transmission rate since July; Positive COVID tests exceed 2% as Omicron spreads
The rate of positive tests confirming COVID-19 infection has exceeded two percent according to Health Ministry figures released on Sunday, which also showed the rate of transmission of the virus at a level not seen in the country for nearly six months.
Of the 44,538 viral tests performed on Saturday, 2.07% came back positive. The last time the rate was above 2% was on October 7, when 2.14% of tests were positive.
Government and health officials have warned that the highly infectious variant of Omicron is pushing the nation’s fifth wave of infections, with the number of cases expected to rise rapidly in the coming weeks.
The reproduction rate, or “R” number, also continued to progress gradually, reaching 1.41 after being 1.02 in early December.
The transmission rate is based on data from 10 days earlier, and any value greater than 1 shows that the infection rate is increasing. It was last at such a high level when assigned on July 10, at 1.42 amid Israel’s fourth wave of infections with the Delta strain of the coronavirus.
The number of critically ill patients continued to rise steadily, reaching 98 to match the level of two weeks ago. Of these, 45 are in critical condition, 18 are on ECMO machines and 39 are on ventilators.
Although the volume of tests tends to drop on weekends, 760 new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed on Saturday, bringing the total number of active cases on Sunday to 11,894.
A death on Saturday brought the death toll to 8,242 since the start of the pandemic.
Since the pandemic began last year, 1,364,282 people in Israel have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
As of Saturday, there had been 1,118 confirmed cases of Omicron in Israel since the strain was first identified.
As authorities try to curb the spread of the virus, new rules for the education system were due to come into effect at midnight. Classes in grades 7 to 12 in communities listed as “red” or “orange” will only be allowed to take place in person if 70 percent of students have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Students in classes where less than 70% of children are immunized will learn online. This decision will also apply to elementary schools (grades 1 to 6) in three weeks.
There are some 600 classes across the country set to switch to distance education in the coming days, according to Hebrew media, notably in the settlement town of Ma’ale Adumim in the West Bank and in several neighborhoods in the coastal city. by Rishon. Lesion.
In “green” and “yellow” communities, the education system will continue normally for all classes.
Under Israel’s traffic light plan, each municipality is assigned a score between 0 and 10 based on several factors, including the number of new cases per 10,000 residents, the rate of positive tests in each town and the rate of increase in the number of new patients in each city. Each locality is assigned a general color, as well as a separate classification for the education system.
While early studies suggest that Omicron may not produce symptoms as severe as the less transmissible Delta variant, experts in Israel say that due to the speed at which the virus is spreading in the country, there will likely be still a burden on hospitals due to the number of cases.
The government has made vaccination its central strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The vaccines are currently available to everyone in Israel over the age of five.
According to figures from the Health Ministry on Sunday, out of a population of around 9.5 million Israelis, 6,502,720 received at least one injection of the vaccine, of which 5,876,953 received two doses, and 4,191,735 also received a third injection, or booster injection.