The key figure of COVID-19 transmission peaks in 3 months as the new epidemic intensifies

While COVID-19 infections continued to grow steadily, a key figure measuring the spread of the virus hit its highest in three months on Sunday.

The virus’s baseline reproduction number, or R value, reached 1.44, as the ministry reported that 3,259 new patients had been diagnosed the day before.

The R-value, which represents the situation 10 days earlier, measures how many people infect each coronavirus carrier on average, with a number greater than 1 meaning the spread of COVID-19 is increasing. It started to rise above 1 in mid-May, after staying below the threshold for nearly two months.

Of the 11,606 COVID-19 tests carried out on Saturday, 29.77% tested positive, the highest rate since the first week of April.

There were 105 patients in serious condition, according to ministry data. The number of seriously ill patients has steadily decreased since mid-March, but has stabilized over the past month and has now started to rise slightly.

Coronavirus czar Salman Zarka told Radio 103FM on Sunday that he does not yet see the country in full epidemic, but urged the public to resume wearing masks.

Coronavirus Tsar Prof. Salman Zarka saw during a press conference near Tel Aviv on November 9, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni / Flash90)

Zarka said that only “the tip of the iceberg” is recorded and that there are a significant number of people who do not get tested when they experience symptoms of COVID or do not report to the authorities if a home test returns a positive result. .

“We see an increase. We are taking it seriously and doing evaluations, ”Zarka said. “It is strongly recommended that the public, especially populations at risk, return to wearing the mask indoors.”

But he said there is currently no intention of introducing any restrictions to the public as they have been applied for the past two years.

“We are not at a restriction point. We are only at the beginning of an ascent, “said Zarka.

There are now 25,859 confirmed active patients in the country.

Health ministry officials will meet this week to discuss the re-imposition of an interior mask mandate, public broadcaster Kan reported Saturday.

The indoor mask rule, which had been one of the last public health orders related to the virus, was lifted on April 23. Masks are still needed in health and medical centers.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz met with health officials and agreed that no new virus restrictions would be implemented at this stage.

Zarka said at the time that health officials would consider recommending a fifth dose of the vaccine to certain segments of the population, but a health advisory team later said they did not recommend launching another booster yet and said that this decision would be re-evaluated on the basis of morbidity rates.

Israel has largely abandoned all restrictions on the coronavirus, with the exception of isolation for those who test positive and the requirement to mask in medical institutions.

Israel has gone through five waves of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began in 2020. It has made mass vaccination a central strategy for tackling the virus, and Sunday’s data showed that so far, out of a population of around 9.5 million , 6,710,267 had received at least one dose.

Of these, 6,141,921 had a second hit and 4,495,625 had three hits. There are also 814,955 who have had four doses.

Since the start of the pandemic, 10,872 people in Israel have died from COVID-19.

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