Official Health: Israel is likely to see 20,000 COVID cases a day in the blast

There are likely to be between 15,000 and 20,000 new COVID-19 cases a day in Israel, an official in charge of overseeing the country’s pandemic response said on Wednesday as health experts measured the reopening of the internal mask order to stop the renewed outbreak.

The average number of confirmed daily infections rose from 2,400 a day on June 6 to 7,661 on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Knesset Health Committee, Salman Zarka said the new variant of the omicron mutated coronavirus, known as BA.5, is gaining ground rapidly and is more resistant to vaccines than previous strains.

“Currently the BA.5 strain affects about 50 percent of patients,” he said. “The effort caused relatively mild illness among young people, but we can see an increase in hospitalizations.”

BA.5 said it was replacing Omicron as the main variant, and that it will continue to earn a place.

“If the vaccine worked 90% against the Delta and 30% of the people vaccinated were infected with Omicron, the new strain is less effective in preventing infection, but it protects against serious diseases,” Zarka said.

He reiterated his recommendation to wear a face mask in public indoor spaces. Nowadays, masks are mandatory only in medical institutions.

“There are those who are thinking of going back to the rules that promise to wear masks,” he said. “We have to measure time.”

A woman wearing a face mask walks downtown Jerusalem on March 16, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

Israel withdrew its demand for an internal mask in April, as the number of infections dropped sharply. Outer masks have not been needed since April last year.

Salman Zarka also said that Israelis will soon be able to be officially recognized as COVID-19 patients based only on a home test, under certain conditions, while the Ministry of Health is working on expanding the test facility.

“Next Monday we will ask the committee to approve regulations that will allow for a controlled home examination by telephone so that those who perform the home examination can be registered in the systems of the Ministry of Health,” he announced.

There are currently 34,275 active cases confirmed in the country, including 119 serious cases, according to the ministry. Six days ago, there were only 74 serious cases.

The death toll was 10,882, including six deaths last week.

The R-value has fallen slightly, but remains very high at 1.46. The number measures the average number of people infected by each coronavirus carrier, which means that the spread of COVID-19 with any number above 1 is increasing. It started to rise above 1 in mid-May, after being below that threshold for almost two months.

With 22,306 tests on Tuesday, the positivity rate stood at 34.35%.

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