Despite "mild" Omicron, Israel records highest number of serious COVID-19 cases ever

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The number of patients hospitalized in Israel in serious condition as a result of COVID-19 continued to rise on Sunday and reached the highest number since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to new Health Ministry data.
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The number of patients hospitalized in Israel in serious condition as a result of COVID-19 continued to rise on Sunday, reaching 1,263, the highest number since the onset of the pandemic, Health Ministry data showed on Sunday. 291 of them were on ventilators.

Before rising to 1,229 on Saturday, the last time the number of serious patients was close to that figure was in January 2021, with 1,193 serious COVID-19 cases. The number of serious patients has been steadily rising since late December — when there were just 75 such cases — as a result of the fast-spreading Omicron variant, The Times of Israel reported.

In total, there were 2,888 people hospitalized, of whom 366 were in critical condition, according to ministry data.

The ministry said serious cases were much more common among the unvaccinated: Among unvaccinated patients aged 60 and up, there were 415.6 serious cases per 100,000 people compared with 35.9 for their vaccinated counterparts.

Some 37,985 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed on Saturday, with a test positivity rate of 28.79% — also the highest rate since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Experts say the true number of cases is probably much higher and testing is more limited on weekends.

On Saturday, over 146,000 PCR and antigen tests were conducted, down from around 400,000 daily tests a week ago. (In comparison: Hungarian authorities performed less than 113,000 tests over the past three days (!), and the daily average for last week was 35,541.)

The transmission rate (measuring the average number of people each infected person spreads the virus to) continued to fall, reaching a value of 0.86.

The transmission rate is based on data from 10 days earlier and any value below 1 shows that the pandemic is shrinking. In December, the R-value shot up to 2.12, but has since been on the decline.

In Israel, almost all of the 277 settlements are in the "highly infected" category, with only three areas being marked as moderately infected with the "orange" colour code. In addition to those infected, 53,646 people are currently under home quarantine because of contact with an infected person.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, 3 167 112 infected people have been registered by Israeli the authorities, according to the Ministry of Health, with 335 727 active cases currently registered in the country.

In Israel, 6,692,594 people over the age of five - 71.97% of the country's population - have been vaccinated with at least one dose of Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine since the end of December 2020. 4,447,657 people, 47.83% of the population, have already received three shots, and 661,355 have received a fourth - or second booster - dose.

Since the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, 9,139 people have died from the disease, 299 in the last seven days.

Cover photo: Getty Images

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