With Restrictions Imminent, Serious COVID Cases in Israel Climb Again

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Haaretz
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A COVID-19 test at a drive-thru testing center in Jerusalem, on Thursday.
A COVID-19 test at a drive-thru testing center in Jerusalem, on Thursday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
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Haaretz

The Health Ministry reported a rise in serious coronavirus cases on Friday as the delta variant continues to spread through Israel, though the overall figure of patients in serious condition remains low.

There are currently 81 people in serious condition – an increase of nine since the previous morning – 17 of whom are on ventilators. There are 167 coronavirus patients in Israeli hospitals.

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Although fewer people were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday – 1,263 compared to 1,336 on Wednesday – fewer tests were conducted, and 1.83 percent came back positive, up from 1.73 the previous day. No new coronavirus deaths were reported.

On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported that the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in preventing infection and mild symptoms has dropped to 40 percent.

Notably, the data might be skewed because a significant portion of the coronavirus tests in Israel were conducted in hot spots and among the elderly, while a smaller number of tests was carried out among the young and vaccinated population. One medical expert that is consulting the Health Ministry said that the data is still too distorted to make a reliable assessment of the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing infection and mild symptoms.   

In light of the increased infection, the coronavirus cabinet approved new restrictions on Thursday, pending government approval, to go into effect next week. Events with over 100 participants – both indoors and outdoors – will only be allowed to include people who have been vaccinated, have recovered, or have a negative test result, if they are age 12 or older.

People will also be required to present a vaccination certificate at cultural or sports events, gyms, restaurants, conferences, tourist attractions, and houses of worship.

Furthermore, beginning on August 8, unvaccinated people will have to pay for their own coronavirus tests, except for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Those attending weddings and parties will have to present proof of immunity, even if they are younger than 12.  

The coronavirus cabinet also recommended expanding the list of countries that Israelis are barred from visiting. This broader list would include Cyprus, Georgia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. This will be brought for government approval and would take effect on Friday, July 30.

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