5,452 new COVID-19 cases reported, highest number since October

The high numbers come the day after the first case of community spread of the new coronavirus strain first discovered in the UK was reported in Israel.

Hadassah Ein Kerem coronavirus unit (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Hadassah Ein Kerem coronavirus unit
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Some 5,452 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Israel on Monday, the largest number of cases in a day since the beginning of October, with 5.6% of tests returning positive, according to a Tuesday morning update by the Health Ministry.
Of those infected, 604 patients were in serious condition and 156 patients were on ventilators. Some 30 people have died since the Health Ministry's Monday morning update, bringing the death toll to 3,256 since the beginning of the outbreak.
The number of daily cases is almost a thousand cases higher than the number reported when the second coronavirus lockdown began in September.
The Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center warned on Tuesday that the numbers were expected to continue rising as large amount of tests were being conducted, indicating a significant increase in infection rates. The number of patients in serious condition is also "on a clear upward trend," according to the center.
"In order to shorten as much as possible the duration of the restrictions that began this week, the high level of infection must be stopped," warned the Center. "To this end, gatherings must be reduced, enclosed spaces must be well ventilated, proper, extensive and systematic wearing of standard masks, which cover the mouth and nose well, must be maintained, and other restrictions must be observed during the coronavirus period. Leaving the education system - and especially high schools - open will challenge the reduction of infection rates and may be a component in expanding it and accelerating the development of the third wave, before the onset of the effects of vaccines."
As new classification requirements came into effect under the updated version of the traffic light program, 74 cities and neighborhoods were labeled as red, 117 were orange, 151 were yellow and 946 were green.
The high numbers come the day after the first case of community spread of the new coronavirus strain, recently discovered in the UK, was reported in Israel, as the country races to vaccinate at-risk populations.
The new strain is up to 70% more infectious than the older strain of the coronavirus, but is not expected to be resistant to currently available vaccines, according to health officials.
The number of Israelis vaccinated against the coronavirus is now higher than the number who have been infected with the virus since the beginning of the outbreak, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced on Tuesday.
Some 495,000 Israelis were vaccinated as of Tuesday morning, just nine days into the vaccination campaign, while 409,213 Israelis had been confirmed as infected with the virus since the beginning of the outbreak. More than 115,000 Israelis were vaccinated on Monday alone.
Israel is currently in its third national lockdown in efforts to lower infection rates while the vaccination campaign works to protect at-risk populations. The education system remains completely open in green and yellow cities, and partially open in orange and red cities. While the lockdown was set by the coronavirus cabinet to last two weeks on condition that infection rates drop under 1,000 new cases per day, health officials have stated that they believe it may last as long as five weeks.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.