COVID-19: 5,657 health staff in quarantine as cases hit 43,868

Shortened isolation for those infected begins today. Hebrew University experts predict up to two million active cases within days.

  People wait in line for Coronavirus tests at Cinema City, Jerusalem, January 9, 2022 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
People wait in line for Coronavirus tests at Cinema City, Jerusalem, January 9, 2022
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

As many as 5,657 health staff were in quarantine as of Wednesday morning, as the country registered 43,868 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours.

Among hospital personnel in isolation were 767 doctors and 1,504 nurses. On Tuesday, around 3,800 staff were in quarantine, including 542 doctors and 1,000 nurses.

The shortage of critical personnel is one of the reasons behind the Health Ministry’s decision to allow individuals infected by the Omicron coronavirus variant to leave isolation after a week instead of 10 days, providing they did not experience any symptoms in the previous three days. The new policy will be implemented starting Thursday.

On Wednesday there were 802 patients hospitalized with COVID, some 257 of whom were in serious condition and 64 on ventilators. A week earlier, there were 519 hospitalized patients, 132 in serious condition and 40 on ventilators.

The country’s death toll stood at 8,290; 19 more than the previous day, marking the most significant increase over 24 hours in weeks.

Israel processed almost 400,000 tests on Tuesday, both PCRs and antigens.

 : Pfizer/BioNTech's new pediatric COVID-19 vaccine vials are seen in this undated handout photo. (credit: PFIZER/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) : Pfizer/BioNTech's new pediatric COVID-19 vaccine vials are seen in this undated handout photo. (credit: PFIZER/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

As of Wednesday night, Israel had more than 230,000 active cases, but experts believe the real number is much higher.

According to a report by Hebrew University of Jerusalem experts, there could be between 800,000 and two million active cases within two weeks, with a total of two to four million Israelis infected during the Omicron wave.

The researchers believe that this will lead to 1,000 to 2,000 serious patients, 2%-5% of whom are expected to be children under 12. According to the report, the chance to be hospitalized from Omicron is about 40% lower than with Delta. In addition, while vaccination appears to be only 10%-20% effective in preventing infection, it remains over 90% effective in preventing serious symptoms.

Israel should begin to see a decline in the number of cases between January 25 and 30.

On Tuesday night, the coronavirus cabinet convened to discuss the situation and Israel’s strategy in the current wave. No decision was made, but the meeting was an opportunity for the ministers to listen to the experts’ evaluation and recommendations.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett presented his policy of maintaining the economy as open as possible without imposing restrictions while protecting the vulnerable populations, both with vaccines and treatments for the infected to prevent their condition from deteriorating.

Almost 460,000 people over 60 had received a fourth dose of the vaccine as of Wednesday morning.

“This is the key,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz wrote on Twitter, commenting on the number of those vaccinated with the new booster. “Protect the elderly and those at risk from a serious illness. Protect health and also work, business and education.”

Also on Wednesday, the Law and Constitution Committee asked the Health and Interior ministries to provide solutions to allow foreign children under five who cannot be vaccinated and individuals who have recovered from COVID and do not live in countries that provide electronic recovery certificates – such as the US – to visit Israel.

On Sunday, Israel reopened its borders to tourists considered fully protected according to the Health Ministry’s criteria. Those include those inoculated twice within the previous six months, vaccinated with a booster, recovered with one shot, or recovered within six months, as demonstrated by an electronic recovery certificate.

According to a report by Hebrew University of Jerusalem experts, there could be between 800,000 and two million active cases within two weeks, with a total of two to four million Israelis infected during the Omicron wave.

The researchers believe that this will lead to 1,000 to 2,000 serious patients, 2%-5% of whom are expected to be children under 12. According to the report, the chance to be hospitalized from Omicron is about 40% lower than with Delta. In addition, while vaccination appears to be only 10%-20% effective in preventing infection, it remains over 90% effective in preventing serious symptoms.

Israel should begin to see a decline in the number of cases between January 25 and 30.

On Tuesday night, the coronavirus cabinet convened to discuss the situation and Israel’s strategy in the current wave. No decision was made, but the meeting was an opportunity for the ministers to listen to the experts’ evaluation and recommendations.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett presented his policy of maintaining the economy as open as possible without imposing restrictions while protecting the vulnerable populations, both with vaccines and treatments for the infected to prevent their condition from deteriorating.

Almost 460,000 people over 60 had received a fourth dose of the vaccine as of Wednesday morning.

“This is the key,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz wrote on Twitter, commenting on the number of those vaccinated with the new booster. “Protect the elderly and those at risk from a serious illness. Protect health and also work, business and education.”

Also on Wednesday, the Law and Constitution Committee asked the Health and Interior ministries to provide solutions to allow foreign children under five who cannot be vaccinated and individuals who have recovered from COVID and do not live in countries that provide electronic recovery certificates – such as the US – to visit Israel.

On Sunday, Israel reopened its borders to tourists considered fully protected according to the Health Ministry’s criteria. Those include those inoculated twice within the previous six months, vaccinated with a booster, recovered with one shot, or recovered within six months, as demonstrated by an electronic recovery certificate.