Omicron in Israel: Infection Rate Shrinks Further, Serious Cases on Rise

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz says 'there is light at the end of the tunnel,' as Israel continues to see a decline in the spread of COVID

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A doctor in the coronavirus ward in Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot.
A doctor in the coronavirus ward in Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Israel witnessed yet another rise in serious coronavirus cases, according to Health Ministry data on Monday, despite signs of the omicron wave ebbing away.

The Health Ministry logged 1,099 serious COVID cases on Sunday, approaching the all-time peak from January 2021.

Out of the seriously ill patients, 332 are in a critical condition, 20 are on ECMO machines and 241 are on ventilators.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, however, struck an optimistic note, saying “there is light at the end of the tunnel.” In an interview with Army Radio, Horowitz said he expects daily infections and serious cases to fall in the coming days.

In the last week, the daily number and the rate of coronavirus infection have started to reverse course.

The R number, which represents the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects, dropped further below 1, indicating declining spread for the first time since early November. The number, representing data from ten days prior, stands at 0.94.

On Sunday, Israel recorded 74,312 new infections, an increase after six days of consecutive decline. However, the moving average is still continuing its downward trend.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is likely to recommend later this week that the government abolish the Green Pass program, which restricts entry into many venues to people who are vaccinated, recovered from the coronavirus or recently tested negative.

Many experts have argued for weeks that the Green Pass is pointless given the current high infection rate. Some have even warned that it creates a false sense of security that causes people to neglect other precautions.

Despite this, the cabinet decided on Sunday to leave the pass in force at most venues for another week, at schools until February 27 and healthcare facilities until March 1.

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