Israeli health officials fearful as second virus wave builds

Coronavirus infections continuing as health officials express fears that without public cooperation Israel is moving closer to getting hit with a second wave of the virus.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Health Ministry officials are expressing growing concerns that a steady rise in the number of coronavirus infections might be putting Israel on the edge of a second wave of the pandemic, Israel Hayom reported Sunday.

A rise in infections over the past week hit dozens of different locations around the country, not just the big cities. Health officials caution that without the public following health guidelines, Israel might be on the verge of a second wave of infections that could force the government to reimpose closures.

“There is a significant increase in the number of sick people and in the coming days we will know if we are at the beginning of the second wave of infections.” a health official said. However, officials noted optimistically that for the meantime there was not an increase in those hospitalized in serious condition and called that “positive data.”

At the end of the week there were an additional 212 new infections with 83 people testing positive on Saturday and 154 on Friday, the highest number since April 30. Some 100 schools around the country have been forced to close and thousands of students and teachers are in home-isolation to limit the spread of infection.

At the same time, the number of daily tests being performed has exceeded ten thousand, with 16,160 people tested on Friday and another 11,000 on Saturday, still short of the previously stated goal of 30,000 tests daily. As of Saturday evening the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel was 15,050 of whom 2,407 are still infected while the rest have recovered.

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Only 103 coronavirus patients are hospitalized, with 39 of them in serious condition. To date, 295 Israelis have succumbed to the pandemic.

The country is getting closer to two of the three “red light” conditions Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said would force the government to reimpose strict health conditions and closures.

Netanyahu said the government would have no choice if the number of daily infections stayed above 100, if the cases start doubling every 10 days or less, and if the number of those in serious condition hits 250 patients.

As of this weekend the number of cases is doubling every four days, but the number of new daily infections has not yet been consistently over 100, and of the 39 patients in serious condition, 21 are breathing with the help of respirators.

However, with warm temperatures and clear skies, Israelis by the hundreds of thousands packed beaches and parks on the weekend, many of them ignoring health guidelines to wear masks and maintain social distancing.