COVID-19 in Israel: Cases keep declining, coronavirus czar urges caution

Israel’s daily coronavirus cases are clearly on a downward trend, with a 37% reduction in positive cases over the last week in comparison to seven days prior.

 CORONAVIRUS ‘CZAR’ Prof. Salman Zarka attends a press conference in Jerusalem on Sunday (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
CORONAVIRUS ‘CZAR’ Prof. Salman Zarka attends a press conference in Jerusalem on Sunday
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

A total of 18,020 new daily COVID-19 cases were recorded in Israel on Saturday, down from 22,360 the previous day. However, recorded cases are usually lower over the weekend due to the lower number of tests taken. Therefore, the reported number does not always accurately represent the true number of cases.

According to a Sunday morning Health Ministry report, 68,977 PCR and antigen tests were taken on Saturday, with a positive return rate of 26.12%.

Nevertheless, Israel’s daily coronavirus cases are clearly on a downward trend, with a 37% reduction in positive cases over the last week in comparison to a week earlier. The number of new serious cases recorded in the last week is also 27% lower than the seven days before that.

Serious cases currently stand at 1,057. Within that number, 328 people are in critical condition, with 269 intubated patients and an additional 21 on ECMO machines.

Of those in serious condition, 5% are from the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sector, 24% are from the Arab sector, 1% are foreign citizens, and the remaining 71% are from the general population.

 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)

As of Saturday evening, 439 patients in serious condition were unvaccinated, 106 were partially vaccinated, and 468 were fully vaccinated according to Health Ministry regulations.

Overall, some 4.5 million people have received a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and within that number, a further 691,352 people have received the fourth dose.

To date, 9,466 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded in Israel since the start of the pandemic, with 233 of those deaths occurring within the last seven days.

Hospitals are still struggling under the weight of the Omicron wave and the subsequent fallout that it has caused, including the 4,175 hospital workers currently in quarantine.

Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem is currently at 100% capacity, which is the lowest it has been in several days. Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot is following close behind with 97.5% of available space filled.

However, the burden does appear to be slowly easing, with the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa reporting less than 90 hospital workers in quarantine as of Sunday morning, in comparison to mid-January when more than 400 workers were in quarantine.

Despite the optimistic data and the continuous downward trend of both new daily cases and serious cases, Israel’s coronavirus commissioner Prof. Salman Zarka urged caution in an interview with KAN Radio on Sunday morning.

“It is too early to see if we are past the fifth coronavirus wave yet,” he said. “We are seeing a decline in cases, but the numbers are still too high. It’s still too early to take the masks off.”