Israel on Sunday saw its highest tally of serious coronavirus cases since the start of the fourth infection wave.
The Health Ministry said 645 patients are in severe condition, out of whom 104 are connected to ventilators.
The ministry added that 5,312 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Shabbos. After 99,036 tests had been conducted, the infection rate stands at 5.44%.
Israel’s death toll since the start of the pandemic stands at 6,782 after more than 15 people succumbed to the disease over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Israeli health system expressed cautious optimism that while the number of patients in serious condition is high but it has slowed down, apparently as a result of the third booster shot being administered to Israelis aged 40 and above.
Initial projections showed that at this time, some 800 patients should have been hospitalized in serious condition, far higher than the current numbers.
Over 1,377,000 Israelis have received the third dose.
Professor Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and an expert on COVID-19 in Israel, noted that in a trend of several consecutive days, the number of severely ill hospitalized patients broke its steady doubling every 10 days.
Professor Ran Balicer, Founding Director of Clalit Research Institute, spoke of “the first favorable news in eight weeks” as the third booster dose “seems to be reducing documented infections on an individual level and also, now on a population level, and despite rising rates, in 60+ the curve is bending.”
“While it is difficult to tease out behavioral factors as the over 60s are being more careful in last few days, the bending seems to be indicating to a booster effect beyond that,” he said.
“However, the exponential increase in overall cases, and Israel is now number one per capita, will lead to renewed ascent if not curbed,” he cautioned.
The Coronavirus Cabinet was set to meet on Sunday afternoon in order to discuss the reopening of schools, as well as whether students will be able to get vaccinated during school hours.
The meeting, which was called at the request of Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, will include health experts and representatives for teachers, parents and even students.
Ministers were reportedly set to approve the reopening of schools on September 1, as well as the outline presented by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week, that grades 8-12 in coronavirus hotspots in which less than 70% of students have either been vaccinated against COVID-19, recovered from the disease or have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, will learn remotely.
Last week, Health Ministry Director General Prof. Nachman Ash signed a directive that would allow vaccinating students against coronavirus during school hours.
The order stipulates that schools will allocate an area within the institution’s premises designated for inoculations, collect permission slips from students’ parents, and hand them to medical teams who will, in turn, set up an appointment to administer the shot.
The Education Ministry on Sunday reported that 26,443 students are currently infected with coronavirus, with 88,108 in quarantine.