New COVID transmission rate exceeds key benchmark, health officials warn

As of Saturday, Israel is dealing with 43,600 active cases.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Israel’s COVID transmission exceeded a key benchmark, the Health Ministry warned on Saturday.

The transmission rate, known simply as R, passed 1 for the first time since January. That represents the average number of people a patient has infected. If R. is greater than 1, it means the pandemic is expanding.

The ministry figures put R at 1.02 as 7,080 new COVID cases were reported on Friday, sparking concerns about a new surge of infections.

The Weizmann Institute’s Professor Eran Segal told Channel 12 News that the rise in cases was likely the result of an Omicron subvariant called BA.2.

“We are actually moving towards an increase and some kind of spread in terms of new cases, and that may be what we see,” Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute, a top government adviser on the pandemic, told Channel 12 news on Saturday. “We are seeing this in some European countries.”

But Segal said he did not believe that a surge in the new subvariant would be as widespread as Omicron because, in his estimate, half the country was infected with Omicron, which would give many people a degree of immunity to BA.2.

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He added that BA.2 is more resistant to vaccines but doesn’t appear to cause the degree of illness associated with the omicron variant.

As of Saturday, Israel is dealing with 43,600 active cases, of which 326 are serious. Since the beginning of the pandemic, corona has claimed the lives 10,417.

Worldwide, nearly 6.1 million people have died of COVID.