COVID in Israel: Serious Cases Surge as Delta Variant Advances

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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People shopping in Jerusalem's Mahne Yehuda market, last month.
People shopping in Jerusalem's Mahaneh Yehuda market, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The number of serious coronavirus cases in Israel has risen by almost 50 percent since last week, Health Ministry data released on Sunday showed, as the delta variant continues to spread across the country.

According to the Health Ministry, 326 new COVID cases were diagnosed on Friday and 185 on Saturday, with the number of serious cases currently standing at 35 – 11 more than the number reported last Sunday. Within this group, 17 are in critical condition and 16 are on ventilators.

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Fourteen of the 35 cases defined as serious have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

The Health Ministry added that the running average of daily new infections rose to 262 from 142 last week. Israel currently has 2,455 active cases. So far, 6,429 people have died from the virus. 

Due to the uptick in coronavirus cases, the number of communities in Israel with a moderate infection rate has spiked from nine to 21 over the weekend. These include several areas in Tel Aviv and Netanya that had been classified as low-risk until Friday.

In addition, the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim east of Jerusalem and a neighborhood in the central city of Petah Tikva were designated as coronavirus hotspots.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at Sunday's cabinet meeting that Israel is considering reinstating some coronavirus restrictions should the number of cases continue to rise.

Last week, the ministry said that the country will soon face 600 new coronavirus cases a day, and that this figure is expected to rise to 1000 in 10 days as the delta variant continues to spread across the country. According to the Health Ministry, Israel is also expected to carry out 100,000 COVID tests per day by July 11.

Israel surpassed 100,000 coronavirus inoculations of 12-16 year olds, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. The ministry, as well as Israeli health maintenance organizations, expressed satisfaction at the rate of vaccination in recent days. There was, however, mention of a large gap between the ultra-Orthodox and Arab populations and the rest of the public.

On Friday, Israel stepped up its bid to halt a major vector of coronavirus transmission by beginning to set up a new testing compound at Ben-Gurion International Airport, which will accommodate up to 2,500 tests an hour.

The initiative by the Defense and Transportation Ministries is expected to be up and running early next week, after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett identified the international gateway as "a huge national vulnerability."

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