Once the global model of defeating COVID-19 with fast vaccination, Israel is experiencing another dramatic hit of daily COVID-19 cases after a brief relief, alarmed health officials said on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
The country of more than 9 million residents recorded more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Monday. Health Ministry data showed it persisted with more than 8,000 infections per day with random peaks of over 10,000 new patients.
“That is a record that did not exist in the previous waves,” Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said, according to The Times of Israel (TOI).
“A week ago we were in a clear downward trend; in recent days we’ve been seeing that decline stop, and the virus reproduction number is [again] above 1,” Ash said of the R number, which specifies how many individuals each virus carrier would infect.
The outlet explains that R values greater than one indicate that the outbreak is spreading, while values less than one indicate that it’s diminishing.
Ash said the number of patients who become severely affected by the virus varied between 670 and 700. A slight decline in daily patients with an acute manifestation of the virus was also observed, ranging from 70 to 80 individuals, TOI added.
Patients on ventilators increased from 150 to 190 in the last ten days, while those on the more critical ECMO machines increased from 23 to 31.
According to The New York Times, after a rapid vaccine rollout, the country had high hopes of leaving the lethal virus behind in April this year, until the fourth wave struck in July.
Data by Reuters showed a hopeful drop of new infections in early September and even a day of zero cases detected. Yet, as the Health Ministry Director said, the figure soon skyrocketed to a historic high again last week.
“I hoped that we would see a clearer drop, but we are still not seeing it,” Ash said.
However, despite the scope of the new infections, fatalities were much lower than during the spring wave. There were days of 70 to nearly 100 deaths in January, but the most significant figure was between 40 to 50 deaths this fall.
National coronavirus czar Salman Zarka in a meeting with the Health Ministry on Tuesday, alleged the virus was prevailing among children, given that they occupied half of the new infections.
Israel is known for its young population, with 25% under 12 years old and not eligible to receive the COVID-19 jabs.
Zarka told The Times of Israel that the Health Ministry was looking at a potential fifth wave to gauge their new COVID-19 response.
So far, the country has been implementing the Green Pass restriction. Israelis who want to visit bars, restaurants, swimming pools, and all indoor or outdoor events of more than 100 people must show their ‘Green Pass,’ a document proving they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 or have recently recovered from the disease.
Noting the Green Pass policy’s effectiveness, Zarka said it would be in place until positive signs of the virus retreating become apparent.
“I hope that we will pass the month of September and stabilize in October,” he said. “Then we will take a fresh look at the policy.”
The country has had 61.35% of its community fully vaccinated. In total, there had been 1,184,053 Israelis infected with the virus and 7,406 deaths.