Israel’s Health Ministry confirmed 4,868 new coronavirus cases on Monday, with tests showing a positivity rate of 9.3%. There are currently 70,836 active virus cases, including 67,493 patients at home, 1,465 at coronavirus hotels, and 1,878 patients being treated at hospitals.
A total of 1,140 patients are seriously ill and a record-high number of 358 patients are ventilated – the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The death toll has risen to 4,419.
Dr. Alroy-Preis told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Monday that an extended ban on international flights is the only way to battle the UK variant and buy time to vaccinate most of Israel’s population.
“The decision to close Ben Gurion Airport for six days will not be enough,” she said. “We’ll have to extend the closure by at least a few weeks to buy time for the vaccination campaign.”
“The UK variant is 50% more contagious. Furthermore, about 40% of current infections are being diagnosed in children versus 29% when we emerged from the second lockdown. We’re seeing an increase in infections in 1st through 4th graders (ages 6-9), which is precisely the age group that is due to return to their classrooms [when the lockdown is lifted].”
Alroy-Preis added that the high number of seriously ill patients, including the unprecedented number of ventilated patients, which is increasing despite the falling number of new daily cases, is due to the British variant.
“We’re seeing a very rapid spread [of the variant],” she said. “The UK variant is behind at least 50% of new cases.”
Coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash reiterated Alroy-Preis’s message, telling Radio 103FM on Monday morning that the British variant which is rapidly spreading through Israel has prevented the lockdown from curbing the infection rate.
Ash said that new information from the UK indicates that the variant causes serious illness at a 30% higher rate. There are also preliminary indications that the virus causes 30% increased mortality.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)