Israel’s lockdown offers no relief as cases spike and fear of yet another mutation takes hold

As cases rise and a new mutation emerges, there’s no end in sight for Israel’s lockdown.  

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

The Ministry of Health’s most recent data on the pandemic aren’t encouraging. On Wednesday, 9,388 new carriers were reported on Wednesday with a record positive test rate of 7.9%.

The data, released on Thursday, shows that 1,834 Israelis are currently hospitalized, of whom 818 are listed in serious condition, 305 are in critical condition, and 280 are connected to ventilators to help them breathe.

Deputy Director of the Health Ministry Itamar Grotto said, “We will consider whether and for how long to extend the closure, at the moment we do not see a stabilization or a decrease in morbidity.”

There is also a new fear from a Brazilian mutation. The new mutation is apart from the UK variant, which sparked worldwide fears just as vaccines were being rolled out. There are no reported cases of the Brazilian mutation in Israel yet.

The mutation was first discovered in Japan among travelers returning from the Amazon region. Similar to the other variants, the Brazilian mutation is more contagious than the original virus, but it is said not to be more deadly.

In reaction to news of the Brazilian mutation, Israel reiterated that returnees to the country will be isolated in hotels upon their return, Israel’s Kan news reports. Corona hotels, in which returning Israelis stay for two weeks, have proven unpopular, with a small melee occurring at one in Jerusalem as citizens tried ineffectually to break out.

Israel has been praised around the world for the fast rollout of its vaccine. In three weeks’ time, it has vaccinated some 22% of its population. It expects to vaccinate the entire population by March.

However, the new variants of the disease, of which the UK version is responsible for 2,000 daily cases in Israel and is expected to become the dominant strain soon, have forced Israel to reimpose a stiff lockdown on its citizens, reduce public transportation and close businesses.