Prof. Eran Segal: Decrease in Omicron cases expected later this week

Coming days still critical, expert warns • New immigrants to get free antigen tests

 Herzog hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of the Herzog Medical Center in Jerusalem, January 13, 2022.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Herzog hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of the Herzog Medical Center in Jerusalem, January 13, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Israel has reached the peak of the Omicron wave and will start to see a decrease in daily infections in the coming week, Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot said in an interview with N12 news on Saturday evening.

Asked if he could estimate exactly when the current wave will be over, Segal said that while it is difficult to give an exact time frame, in another two or three weeks the number of daily infections will be reduced to such an extent that the wave can be considered to have ended.

But the coming days are still critical, he cautioned, as Israel is experiencing the peak of infections and people must continue to remain cautious.

“During the next week we will see a decrease in the number of daily cases and by next weekend the number is expected to be between 40,000 and 50,000 a day,” he explained.

“In terms of severe morbidity, an increase is still expected and we may reach between 800-1,000 severe cases.”

 Test tubes labelled ''COVID-19 Omicron variant test positive'' are seen in this illustration picture taken January 15, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION) Test tubes labelled ''COVID-19 Omicron variant test positive'' are seen in this illustration picture taken January 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

Similar data has been reported elsewhere in the world, with Reuters reporting on Friday evening that new cases were falling in parts of the United States hit hardest by the fast-spreading variant.

A total of 69,104 COVID-19 cases were recorded in Israel on Thursday, the Health Ministry reported on Friday morning, with 638 people in serious condition, 123 of whom are on ventilators.

Of those currently hospitalized in serious condition, 84% are over the age of 60, and 1% are between the ages of 0-4. The rest of the serious hospitalized patients are between the ages of 19 and 59.

There are currently 453,505 active coronavirus cases in Israel, 452,692 of which (99.8%) are classified as mild. A total of 219,646 people are currently self-isolating.

As of Friday, 55% of serious cases were in patients who had received three vaccines, and 24% had not been vaccinated at all.

The Aliyah and Integration Ministry has purchased 15,000 antigen tests that will be handed out free of charge to new immigrants across Israel, the ministry announced on Saturday evening.

The tests will be distributed as part of the ministry’s new “anything to make you feel well” campaign, which takes its name from the ministry’s own “anything to make you feel at home” slogan.

Additionally, in the coming days, the ministry will launch a campaign in five languages – Russian, Amharic, French, Spanish and English – in order to encourage immunization against COVID-19 in immigrant communities. The campaign will also provide psychological assistance in those languages to people struggling with the ongoing pandemic, it stated.

An estimated 13,000 elderly immigrants have already received free antigen tests and can contact the ministry to receive additional ones as needed, also free of charge.

“We are constantly working to take care of, accompany and cover new immigrants in all their needs, and first and foremost in protecting their health,” Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said. “We have a commitment to safeguarding the health of immigrants and in particular the health of elderly immigrants. I call on anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so, and to follow the Health Ministry guidelines.”

Labor MK Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin tested positive for COVID-19, along with three Knesset security guards, making them the latest of many Knesset workers to test positive for COVID-19 over the last few weeks, Knesset officer Yuval Chen reported on Saturday evening.

On Friday morning, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 after taking a PCR test.

Gantz, who has received four vaccines, has said he is feeling well and will continue to manage and oversee Israel’s security affairs from his home, where he is self-isolating.

The defense minister was last in the Knesset on January 17.

Also testing positive on Friday were United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush and Yisrael Beytenu MK Evgeny Sova.