Israel’s infection rate may be on the way back up

IDF intel report shows the steep decline in morbidity appears to have leveled off and the positive coronavirus rate rising.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A report by the IDF’s intelligence department released Monday warned that in the past week there has been a stabilization in the rate of positive coronavirus tests and the steep decline in infections has leveled off, a possible indication that the morbidity level is steadying at a higher rate than targeted.

Ministry of Health data published Monday morning showed 649 new coronavirus infections were diagnosed in the past day with the rate of positive tests rising to 3.1%. There are currently 9,800 Israelis actively sick with the virus, a huge drop from a peak of over 60,000 last month, but the government had set a target of an average of 500 new cases daily over an entire week before the country could move to the next phase of easing health restrictions to reopen the moribund economy.

There are 691 Israelis hospitalized with the virus with 372 of them listed in serious condition, and 170 of those connected to respirators. The death toll since the beginning of the pandemic stands at 2,554, with 157 additional victims in the past week – an average of 22 deaths daily.

On Sunday, the Health Ministry warned that the increase in the coefficient of infection could delay the opening of the economy. After reaching a low coefficient of infection of 0.6 two weeks ago, the coefficient rose last week to 0.75. The working assumption in the ministry is that as soon as the coefficient rises above 0.8, the opening of the economy will slow down and restrictions that had been eased will have to be reimposed.

There is additional concern about latent morbidity in the ultra-Orthodox sector where over the weekend there were 1.8 tests per 10,000 people while among the general population the number was 8.4 tests per 10,000. The rate of positive tests is currently twice as high in the ultra-Orthodox sector as the general population, meaning the actual number of new infections may be much higher than the 649 reported.

With the winter rainy season settling into the region, the coefficient of infection is expected to rise further because of crowds in closed places as has already happened in Europe, tweeted Eran Segal, a biologist at the the Weizmann Institute.