Israel spirals into chaos as Omicron variant runs rampant

Not enough COVID tests available as daily cases hit all-time high.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Israel has descended into apparent chaos and mass confusion as the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant rips through the country and the government appears to have given up on confronting the challenge.

The country registered an estimated 20,000 daily cases over the weekend, an all-time high, and expects over one million Israelis to be infected in the coming weeks, sending the country into a de facto lockdown, with schools closing and a high number of employees remaining home in quarantine.

Many parents stayed home with their children due to the confusion and disorder in the guidelines. Roads are empty.

Due to the lack of infrastructure, the government has announced that only citizens over the age of 60 and those at risk are eligible for PCR tests, while the rest resort to testing with the less accurate antigen tests.

However, there appears to be a lack of tests in the stores, meaning that Israelis in quarantine cannot be properly tested and are forced to remain at home. Furthermore, antigen tests in Israel are some of the most expensive in the West, putting another heavy expense on families with children who are required to test regularly.

The Ministry of Health does not have accurate data on the number of new daily cases due to the lack of broad PCR testing. However, it did register 205 patients hospitalized in serious condition, a 177% increase in the past seven days. Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem reported on Sunday a doubling in the number of corona patients in its care in the past week.

Of the suspected case who were tested, a very high 11.71% returned positive, the highest percentage since September 2020.

Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, 98, one of the senior leaders of the Haredi community, was infected with corona, his office announced Sunday.

Members of Knesset Etti Atiya  and Chaim Katz announced they were infected with the virus, as well as several other Knesset officials and employees.

MK Amichai Chikli summed up when he tweeted “children at home, kindergartens, and schools close on their own initiative, parents do not go to work, but ‘everything is fine,’ ‘we got Israel out of the chaos.’”