Israel Reports Rise in Serious COVID Cases, Positive Test Rate at 4-month High

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Haaretz
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Passengers in Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, last week.
Passengers in Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, last week. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
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Haaretz

Israel reported Monday a 4-month peak of positive test rate, as well as a continued rise in the number of new coronavirus cases and patients in serious condition, as the virulent delta variant spreads.

Israeli Health Ministry recorded on Sunday 1,398 new COVID-19 cases with 108 people in serious condition, 20 of whom are on ventilators and 25 are in critical condition. Moreover, there are 199 coronavirus patients in Israeli hospitals.

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According to the Health Ministry's data, out of the 108 patients who suffer severe symptoms 75 are inoculated with one or two jabs.

As more people were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sunday – 1,398 compared to 969 on Saturday – a 2.08 percent of the tests conducted came back positive, a gradual climb from 1.79 the previous day and the highest figure since March 17.

Israel also saw a twenty-day peak in the number of newly vaccinated people, the majority of whom received their second jab. The data comes after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett criticized unvaccinated people who chose not to inoculate during a televised address.

At a meeting of his Meretz party on Monday, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that the government's policy is to avoid lockdowns and instead of focus on ensuring that people wear masks, quarantine when required, and get vaccinated. "This is the government's policy – to have a normal routine alongside the coronavirus, with an understanding that the coronavirus will be with us for some time and we have to live during that period," he said.

On Sunday, the Israel cabinet approved the electronic monitoring of people entering the country who are obliged to quarantine. 

While the cabinet approved use of "electronic measures," the government does not plan to use tracking bracelets, but rather to encourage the use of a smartphone app.

According to the proposal by the Health and Public Security Ministries that was approved by the cabinet, anyone returning from abroad and required to self-isolate will need to use the designated app to send a one-time update to the authorities on their location, after which the state will monitor them. The state made use of this app during previous COVID outbreaks.

Last week, the government reinstated vaccine passports for events of over 100 people in closed venues. When asked on Sunday whether those new requirements would suffice, Ash said that he hopes it will lower the rate of infection, but that the situation would need to be monitored to see whether additional steps must be taken.

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