The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 is again on the rise in the State of Israel, according to the Health Ministry.
The infection coefficient reached 1.02 on Saturday. Any figure above “1” indicates the infection rate is on the rise.
On Friday, 15.96 percent of those tested were diagnosed with the virus, reaching a total of 7,080 new cases.
The death toll from the virus has reached 10,419, including 26 Israelis who lost their lives to COVID-19 this past week.
As of Saturday night, 326 people were hospitalized in serious condition because of the coronavirus, including 133 patients who are being maintained on respirators, and 15 more whose survival depends on the ECMO (heart and lung) machines to which they are connected.
A New Variant
Israel this past week reported two cases of a new COVID-19 variant that has yet to be named. The new strain, a combination of the BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants, was detected in PCR tests carried out at Ben Gurion International Airport.
“The two cases of the combined strain, which have been discovered so far, suffered from mild symptoms of fever, headaches and muscle dystrophy, and do not require a special medical response,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Speaking in an interview on Israel’s Galei Tzahal Army Radio, Health Ministry Director-General Professor Nachman Ash said the source of the infection is not yet known.
“It’s likely that they were infected before boarding the flight to Israel,” Ash said. “The variant could have emerged here. We don’t know what it means yet.”
He added, however, that at this point, the ministry is not concerned about the new variant leading to serious cases.
Israel’s National COVID Information Center warned earlier this month that cases of the BA.2 subvariant were increasing, and “could slow the decline in infections and eventually perhaps even halt it.”
At present, BA.2, also known as “Stealth Omicron” has become the leading strain causing new coronavirus infections in at least 18 countries.
There have also been reports of BA.2 mutating together with the Delta variant, creating a new variant some researchers are calling “Deltacron.”
A limited number of such cases have been identified among Israelis returning from Europe, according to a report last Monday by KAN News, Israel’s public broadcaster.
Deltacron has been detected in Netherlands and France, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) but has not appeared to spread farther thus far.