COVID-19 Infection Rates Spike in Israel, but Spread Has Slowed Down, Report Says

The R number has dropped to 1.04, as compared to 1.3 at the end of December, though the rate of infection and hospitalized patients remain a serious concern

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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A coronavirus testing center in Jerusalem, January 19, 2021
A coronavirus testing center in Jerusalem, January 19, 2021Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

While the positive test rate "continues to be very high" and infection rates "have peaked," the coronavirus contagion rate "continues to decline - evidence that its spread has nearly been contained," says a new report published on Tuesday by the Israeli government's coronavirus information center. 

The infection coefficient (“R” – the average number of new infections caused by each carrier) has dropped to 1.04, as compared to 1.3 at the end of December, according to the report. This is a positive development, despite recent alarming figures also mentioned in the report, according to which more than 10,000 coronavirus cases were confirmed on Monday alone and close to 2,000 patients are hospitalized.

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The authors of the report noted that completing the vaccination campaign for the older population will mainly reduce infection and fatality rates in the shorter term, "but in the long run, even after people 60 and older are vaccinated there will still be a risk for a high degree of serious illness until many more people are inoculated.”  

The report also warns about the new coronavirus mutations found in Britain, South Africa and Brazil, saying of the British variant that “it is estimated that this variant exists in the general Israeli population at a high rate.” The report also mentions that there is concern that the Brazilian variant “is more contagious, may re-infect those convalescing from the illness and even pose a challenge to the vaccines that have been developed. At the same time, this has not yet been scientifically proven and the issue is still being examined.”

According to the report, as compared to Italy, the United Kingdom, South Korea, France, the United States and Austria - Israel is in the lead with respect to the number of new infections each day per one million people. However, it also leads respectively in the number of tests conducted per day.

So far, 2,190,000 Israelis have received the first dose of the vaccine and 423,000,000 have received the second dose. 

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