COVID in Israel: Serious Cases Double in a Week as Delta Variant Spreads

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Shoppers in Tel Aviv's Carmel market, earlier this week.
Shoppers in Tel Aviv's Carmel market, earlier this week.Credit: Hadas Parush

The number of serious coronavirus cases in Israel has almost doubled in the past week and is now standing at 46, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Thursday.

In addition, Israel reported 518 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the number of active cases to 3,568. The death toll from the virus now stands at 6,429.

Out of the 74,421 coronavirus tests conducted on Wednesday, 0.7 percent came back positive.

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Two COVID patients died in Israel on Wednesday night. One was an unvaccinated 48-year-old man. He died at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. His doctors said that he was transferred from a different hospital and was on a ventilator before he succumbed to the illness. They added that he didn't suffer from any preexisting conditions.

The other COVID patient, a 46-year-old man, died at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. He was fully vaccinated against the virus. His wife, who is 70-year-old, is also hospitalized in a moderate condition after catching the virus.

Also on Wednesday, the Israeli Health Ministry reported that a vaccinated passenger who had arrived in Israel from abroad was diagnosed with the country's first case of a new coronavirus variant known as delta plus.

Another person, who came into contact with the carrier, currently awaits his COVID-19 test result.

While the delta plus variant seems to be similar to the widespread delta variant, it is still unclear whether it is more contagious or dangerous than the delta variant. The delta plus variant is different in its spike protein on the surface of the virus, which enables the virus to bind to a cell and infect it.

The coronavirus cabinet decided Wednesday that all passengers arriving in Israel will be required to go into quarantine, even if they have been vaccinated in Israel, until they receive a negative COVID-19 test taken upon arrival. The new restrictions will go into effect in the coming days. 

The delta plus variant was first discovered in India, as was the delta variant, and has now been found in a number of other countries, including the United States and Britain. It is not apparent, however, whether it will become the dominant strain in those countries.

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