Omicron in Israel: 25 Percent Spike in Serious Cases in Past Week

Three quarters of the serious COVID cases in Israel are among the unvaccinated, Health Ministry data shows

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Omicron in Israel: 25 percent spike in serious cases. Pictured: Vaccinations in Jerusalem
Omicron in Israel: 25 percent spike in serious cases. Pictured: Vaccinations in JerusalemCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Israel's Health Ministry recorded 98 active serious COVID cases on Sunday, marking a 24 percent increase over the last eight days, as fears grow of an omicron wave overwhelming the country.

Of the new serious cases this past week, 75 percent were not inoculated at all, even though the unvaccinated account for only 31 percent of Israel's population. Per capita, the unvaccinated suffer from serious illness from COVID at 10 times the rate of the vaccinated.

The omicron variant is believed to be three times as infectious as the last major variant, delta. However, vaccines appear to provide partial protection against infection with omicron, but appear to be 70 to 75 percent effective at preventing severe illness.

Ahead of a cabinet meeting in the Golan Heights this morning, other coronavirus metrics on Sunday will also raise concerns.

The R number, which marks the average number of people a carrier of the virus infects, has been steadily rising in December, and reached a three-month peak at 1.41. The figure reflects Health Ministry data up to 10 days prior.

In addition, the number of average daily cases almost tripled from 428 to the current average of 1,236 over the past five weeks.

Government employees will not attend the meeting in person as a precaution, after one staffer from the Prime Minister's Office tested positive for coronavirus.

On Saturday, Israel confirmed 591 new cases of the omicron variant, the Health Ministry, more than doubling the total number of confirmed carriers in the country, which now stands at 1,118 – up from 527 on Friday morning.

There are 861 other confirmed COVID cases in people who are known to have been exposed to an omicron carrier, but await lab results to confirm whether they indeed have omicron.

So far, 6.5 million Israelis have received at least one dose of the vaccine and approximately 4.2 million have received the booster shot.

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