The ministry of health reports a record number of new coronavirus cases – 9,583 since Monday, the highest number since the pandemic’s outbreak last March. There were also a high 7,6pc positive tests out of 127,000. In hospital are 1,027 seriously ill patients, of whom 247 are on ventilators. The death toll has reached, 3,704.
Since last Friday, Israel has been on a stringent lockdown. The steep rise in contagion is attributed by a group of scientists at the Weitzman Institute to the growing prevalence of the highly transmissible “British mutant.” Altogether 504,269 active cases are currently registered in Israel.
The scientists’ estimate, which was put before the Coronavirus Cabinet. is that the mutant strain has still to do its worst. They predict more broken records of infection and mortality in the coming weeks.
At the same time, the group also forecasts that the crash vaccination program advancing at full tilt – 1,850,000 people have been inoculated till now – will gradually reverse the upward curve of infection and no more strict closures will be needed before the contagion is brought under control.
The vaccination program received a major boost on Sunday with the delivery of 700,000 Pfizer vaccines, the first of a promised weekly shipment up until March. Health authorities estimate that 5.2 m Israelis over 16 (out of a population of more than 9 million) will have been immunized against coronavirus by the end of March.
As of Wednesday, people of 50 plus and teachers will join the top priority cycle of over 60s, high-risk and medical personnel groups vaccinated hitherto.
Five thousand police and security personnel have been mobilized to enforce lockdown restrictions on movement beyond a thousand meters from home, except for necessary errands and for people employed at essential places of work.