Health Ministry Official: Israel Facing Unprecedented COVID Morbidity Levels

(Israel Hayom) -
Health-care workers take test samples of Israelis in a drive through complex to check if they have been infected with the coronavirus, in Modi’in. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israel’s coronavirus infection rate has dropped to 5.22%, according to Health Ministry data released Tuesday, as 7,684 of the 158,061 people who tested for the virus were found to have the disease. The reproduction date remains stable at 1.01.

There are 687 people hospitalized in serious condition, 189 of whom are on ventilators.

Israel’s death toll rose to 7,406.

On the vaccination front, 6,048,066 Israelis have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, while 5,554,395 have received two doses. Nearly 3 million Israelis – 2,99,405 – have received all three available doses of the vaccine.

Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash commented on current morbidity levels at a meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Tuesday morning.

He said: “While one week ago, we were on a clear downward trend, we’ve seen this stop in recent days. In addition, we have yet to see a decrease in the number of seriously ill.”

With Israel confirming over 10,000 infections in recent days, Ash said: “Such record morbidity levels have not been seen in any of the previous waves [of the outbreak], not even in the third high wave.”

Ash further announced the cancellation of green pass restrictions for outdoor swimming pools. “We understand the burden this caused,” he said.

He said: “I cannot prove the efficiency of the green pass, but it is my assessment that epidemiologically, the green pass is of great importance for the creation of a protective environment for people to conduct themselves freely without feeling that they are putting themselves at risk at event operating under the pass. To see the efficiency, enforcement must be maintained.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz was caught on a hot mic saying “green pass” rules for certain venues are not imposed for medical reasons but rather to pressure the public to get vaccinated.

Horowitz made the remarks ahead of a Cabinet meeting to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who was also unaware the conversation was being taped and would be broadcast on Channel 12 News.

In response to Shaked’s suggestion that the “green pass” no longer be required for outdoor seating at restaurants, Horowitz said: “For swimming pools, too, not just in restaurants.”

“Epidemiologically, it’s true,” said Horowitz, adding, “The thing is, I’m telling you, our problem is people who don’t get vaccinated. We need to influence them a bit; otherwise, we won’t get out of this.”

Currently, he said, “there is a kind of universality to the ‘green pass’ system, other than at malls, where I think it should be imposed, because now it’s clear that it applies nowhere.”

On the one hand, he said, “we don’t want to do things that have no medical justification, but I’m telling you that we have a problem. The ‘green pass’ isn’t even being enforced; certainly not in the Arab sector, where it doesn’t exist at all. And I’m seeing the effect on the hospitals.”

Horowitz and Shaked were joined by Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern, who, also unaware that the conversation was being recorded, expressed frustration with the unvaccinated.

“It’s annoying that they’re taking up hospital beds,” he said.

To which Horowitz replied: “Those in intensive care, yes.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett subsequently told the Cabinet that tolerance towards those who choose not to get vaccinated has ended, according to a report by Channel 12.