Coronavirus in Israel: Ash says COVID-19 likely to never go away

Nearly 44,000 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday • 1,161 are in critical condition, 288 on ventilators.

Coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash visits COVID department, Ziv hospital, Tzfat. (photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash visits COVID department, Ziv hospital, Tzfat.
(photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)

COVID-19 will probably never go away, Israeli Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash told 103FM radio Tuesday morning as the new Omicron sub-variant BA.2 continues to spread worldwide.

The novel coronavirus "has not disappeared, and probably won't disappear either," Ash explained.

The BA.2 sub-variant, which is believed to be more transmissible than the already highly transmissible Omicron one, still only constitutes a small percentage of cases in Israel.

"So far there are no signs that it is spreading. Hopefully, it will stay that way," Ash told 103FM.

"New variants will pop up all the time," he said. "One of the important things we do is be prepared and follow new variants as they develop and assess how dangerous they might be. I hope no new variants will bother us."

 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)

A total of 43,852 new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in Israel on Monday out of 181,947 tests taken (24%), according to the Health Ministry. 

There are 1,161 people in critical condition, including 288 on ventilators. So far, Israel's death toll stands at 9,226.

Currently, 673,047 Israelis have received the fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine. A total of 4,450,249 have received three doses, 6,106,814 received two and 6,693,602 have received one.

The pandemic has also seen Israel's hospitals struggling with funds, and arguments sparking between hospitals and the government as well as with health funds.

In a discussion Tuesday with the Knesset Health Committee, hospital administrators criticized the conduct of the Finance and Health ministries.

"Right now, both patients and caregivers are paying with their lives for the Health Ministry's behavior," Rambam Health Care Campus Director-General Dr. Miki Halbertal said.

"The fact that the Finance Ministry presented something irrelevant doesn't help," Halbertal continued. "The fact that they boldly dare to say that there has been a relevant discussion is a lie, and it is terrible. As a citizen, I am ashamed of this conduct."

Shaare Zedek Medical Center director Prof. Ofer Marin noted that the fifth wave of COVID-19 is vastly different in the hospitals compared to what is being presented in the media.

EMMS Nazareth Hospital director Prof. Fahad Hacham accused the Finance Ministry of making the situation so bad that the hospitals are metaphorically "firing on our forces."

"We're going downhill and do not know how to look our employees in the eye," Hacham lamented.

This is a developing story.