Photo Credit: JewishPress.com
Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva

Israel broke another record Thursday for the third time this week with the number of new COVID-19 cases identified topping 16,000 in a 24-hour period.

There were 16,115 cases of the virus diagnosed out of 330,000 tests conducted from Wednesday to Thursday, with a 7.89 positivity rate reported by the Health Ministry, and the virus transmission rate – the “R number” having increased to 1.99. The figure is based on data from 10 days earlier and values greater than 1 indicate the infection is spreading.

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At present 134 hospitalized Israelis are listed in serious condition, including 51 who are in critical condition; of those, 41 are being maintained on ventilators.

Sadly, two six-year-old children died this week from the virus at Be’er Sheva’s Soroka Medical Center, the hospital announced Thursday.

“These are difficult cases of children with complex pre-existing diseases who contracted coronavirus and their condition worsened due to the virus,” the hospital said in a statement. According to Israel’s KAN News public broadcaster, both children suffered from genetic conditions.

There was no information on whether either was vaccinated – but the head of Soroka’s pediatric intensive care unit, Dr. Tzachi Lazar, urged parents to vaccinate their children against the virus, according to Ynet.

“Due to the accelerated rate of infection, our concern is that we will begin to see children without pre-existing illnesses whose condition may become complicated as a result of the virus,” Dr. Lazar said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned at the start of the week that Israel is likely to see some 20,000 new daily cases of the virus by Friday; he added that Israel could see as many as 50,000 new daily cases when the current, fifth wave peaks.

Israel is the first country in the world to authorize a fourth vaccine booster shot for people ages 60 and older along with other vulnerable groups.

New testing regulations were to go into effect at midnight Thursday night into Friday, with Israelis ages 60 and up, and those considered “high risk” to be prioritized at PCR testing sites.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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