COVID-19 in Israel: 37,559 new cases, number of serious patients remains steady

IDF soldiers now eligible for fourth vaccine dose

 Healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) stand at the entrance of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hospital in Ahmedabad, India, January 7, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIT DAVE)
Healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) stand at the entrance of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hospital in Ahmedabad, India, January 7, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIT DAVE)

There were 37,559 new daily coronavirus cases recorded in Israel on Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 320,470, according to a Health Ministry update on Wednesday morning.

Serious patients increased only slightly, from 1,161 on Tuesday to 1,164 on Wednesday, possibly indicating that the number of serious patients has peaked and will now begin to decline. Of those classified as serious patients, 273 are intubated and 22 are connected to ECMO machines. 
Prof. Eran Segel said that the figures Israel is currently seeing are 35% lower than what they were two weeks ago, but that they are still high, numbering in the tens of thousands every day.
“It will take a few more weeks until we reach lower numbers,” he told Army Radio on Wednesday morning.
Hospitals are still experiencing heavy overcrowding, with more than 4,600 workers in self-isolation as of Wednesday morning. Ichilov Hospital, Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Sheba Medical Center are all currently operating at over 100% capacity.
Segel said that while Israel has started to see the number of hospitalizations stabilize over the past few days and that there may be room for cautious optimism, the numbers are still very high.
 Kaplan hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot on January 18, 2022. (credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90) Kaplan hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot on January 18, 2022. (credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

Out of 154,878 coronavirus tests, both PCR and antigen, taken across Israel on Tuesday, 24.25% returned positive. The R-rate continues to drop and is now at 0.79.  To date, there have been 9,303 corona-related deaths in Israel since the start of the pandemic.

United Hatzalah announced that they would begin providing free supervised antigen tests for those who require one. The organization had been providing the same service in multiple locations across Israel until now, in addition to supervised PCR and serological tests, but had charged a fee to cover the costs.
The free testing centers will be located in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Airport City, Beit Shemesh, and Rehovot, and additional free centers will be opened in more locations in the coming days.
“I am happy to announce that we have won a tender put out by the Health Ministry, and from now on, we will be able to provide supervised antigen tests free of charge to the public,” said president and founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer. “Winning the tender shows the faith that the Health Ministry has in United Hatzalah as one of the largest emergency medical organizations in the country. We are happy to assist with the national testing efforts and offer these services to anyone in need of them.”
Meanwhile, the IDF reported 5,446 new corona cases on Wednesday, with 4,010 soldiers and officers currently quarantined in the homes.
Earlier on Wednesday, the IDF announced that soldiers will now be eligible to receive a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Soldiers who received the third vaccine at least four months prior, or those who have recovered over three months ago, will be eligible to receive the vaccine, which will be given at IDF Medical Corps clinics across the country. Those who wish to receive it will be required to make an appointment in advance.