Serious COVID Cases Keep Climbing as Israel Mulls Fourth Lockdown

Another lockdown would be Israel's last resort, the health minister said, calling on people to follow coronavirus guidelines and get vaccinated

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Israelis receiving COVID-19 vaccine in Jerusalem, August 2021.
Israelis receiving COVID-19 vaccine in Jerusalem, August 2021.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Israel recorded 3,421 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, while the number of people in serious condition climbed to 241 – the highest since mid-April, according to figures issued by the Health Ministry on Thursday.

The number of coronavirus tests returning positive, meanwhile, dropped slightly, from 3.35 to 3.28 percent. The R number, representing the average number of people a COVID carrier infects, also went down, from 1.34 to 1.3.

Experts explain: If most Israelis are vaccinated, why is COVID surging?

The last time the R number dropped below 1, meaning the outbreak is under control, was in early June.

A total of 5,387,452 people received two vaccine doses and over 262,000 received a third vaccine booster. So far 6,503 people have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said on Wednesday that the government sees another lockdown as a measure of last resort and that it can still be avoided if the public follows restrictions and if more people get vaccinated. "We will do the maximum to avoid a lockdown," he said.

Israel’s coronavirus cabinet concluded a three-hour-long meeting on Tuesday by announcing a series of new COVID-19 restrictions, as the country plunged deeper into a post-vaccination delta variant wave. The new regulations, including limiting gatherings to those with proof of immunity and encouraging working from home, will go into effect on Sunday.

"Our goal is to keep Israel open while preventing a situation where hospitals fill up, and we'll have a shortage of beds," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the opening of a COVID-19 testing center earlier on Wednesday, adding that "we know how to slam on the breaks" if such a situation arises.

The Health Ministry’s director-general, Prof. Nachman Ash, told Army Radio on Thursday: “We don’t want to get to a lockdown, but reality can make it a necessary move to make.” He added that should the booster shot campaign lead to a decrease in infection rates, “it could prevent or delay stricter measures.”

“For now, I would give time for the third vaccine and other measures to work,” Ash said. “We’ll have to make another decision in two-three weeks, maybe even during August.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott