Photo Credit: Yossi Aloni / Flash 90
Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in a lab at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel.

Israel’s National Security Adviser and Director of the National Security Council Dr. Eyal Hulata tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday morning.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his staff have all taken antigen tests and received negative results, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

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Yisrael Beytenu Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, New Hope Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Housing and Construction Ze’ev Elkin, and Likud MK David Amsalem have all tested positive for the virus as well. Liberman said in a tweet that he “feels good” and will self-quarantine at his home in the Jewish community of Nokdim in eastern Gush Etzion.

At least half a million Israelis ages 60 and up have received the fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine so far. Israel is the first country in the world to administer a fourth “booster” shot to its citizens.

“Israel’s trailblazing vaccine campaign has reached another milestone,” Bennett said in comments Thursday night. “Thank you to the half a million Israelis who got the fourth dose of the COVID vaccine and in so doing, help to keep us all safer.”

The Health Ministry reported Saturday evening that 39,015 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday; 11,351 were diagnosed with the virus during the day on Saturday, with the positivity rate rising to 14.02 percent on Friday. The number of serious cases rose to 387 (up by 81 from the previous day), including 93 patients being maintained on respirators. Five people have died from the virus since Friday.

There were 40,430 new cases of the virus diagnosed Thursday, with a positivity rate of 12.65 percent.

Likewise, the average daily number of deaths due to the virus stood at three per day, another statistic that appears to be rising.

At least 20 cases of another new variant of the virus, Omicron BA2, has been identified in Israel. The new variant has also been diagnosed in China, India, Denmark, Australia, Canada and Singapore. It’s not yet clear whether this form of the virus is the same, milder or more severe than Omicron.

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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.