Photo Credit: Yossi Zeliger / Flash 90
Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a lab at Leumit Health Care Services branch in Or Yehuda

Even as the number of candles increases each night during Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, sadly, so too has the number of newly diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus in Israel.

The Coronavirus Cabinet voted not to impose any major restrictions, and no lockdown or curfew on the holiday, despite the clear indications there would be a risk in not doing so. But for many reasons, among them the issue of the national mental health and certainly the economic health of the country, it was decided to wait out the holiday.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that vaccinations for the virus will begin on December 27. The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has already arrived in the country.

But meanwhile, the Health Ministry reported late Saturday night that there were 1,818 new, confirmed cases of the virus on Friday; all were positive results obtained from 77,128 tests that were conducted during the day.

At present, there are 17,560 Israelis actively fighting the coronavirus; 613 are hospitalized, 254 are being cared for at coronavirus hotels. The rest are quarantined at their homes.

As of Saturday evening, 331 patients were listed in very serious condition, including 123 who require life support and who were on respirators. The death toll from the coronavirus in Israel since the start of the pandemic has reached 2,979.

In Jerusalem, Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center’s coronavirus departments are at 91 percent occupancy at this point; Rambam Hospital in Haifa is nearly the same, at 88 percent occupancy, and Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv is at 91 percent occupancy as well. A host of other hospitals are getting close as well.

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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.