Photo Credit: David Cohen/Flash90
A masked clown entertains patients at Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat.

The IDF Military Intelligence report released Wednesday morning points to a disturbing new trend, with the coefficient of infection on the rise for the third day in a row, currently standing at 0.9.

According to the health ministry, there 4,395 tested positive on Tuesday, based on 74,164 test results. As of Wednesday morning, there are 795 patients in severe condition, out of whom 259 are on respirators. 17 died of COVID-19 on Tuesday; 5,648 have died since the outbreak of the pandemic. 4,537,244 Israelis have received the first dose of the vaccine, 3,146,509 the second.

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“There is a clear decline in the rate of verified and severe morbidity among 60-plus-year-olds, due to the vaccination campaign,” says the latest MI report. “However, there is an increase in the number of new patients in serious condition among the younger groups, which recently have accounted for about half of the new morbidity.”

“Despite the change in the age mix of patients, it appears that the extensive magnitude of infection, and the fact that a significant part of the population has not yet been vaccinated, cause a slow pace in the decrease in severe morbidity,” according to the report, which warns: “If the upward trend continues, in about a week, there may be a recurrence of the disease.”

The report also shows that about 80% of all new Corona patients are under 40, and about 17% are 50-59 years old. Less than 5% of newly diagnosed patients are ages 80 and over.

Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Hezi Levy was asked on Army radio if Israel is on the verge of a fourth wave of the pandemic, and replied: “I don’t know if this is the fourth wave, but we have set a goal to reduce morbidity and the coefficient of infection with the numerous vaccinations, and the situation is not good—even though we see that the vaccine still manages to reduce the level of morbidity.”

Tel Aviv kids arrive in school dressed up in Purim costumes, February 24, 2021. / Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

In light of the increase in the infections coefficient, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday morning referred to the decision to impose a nightly curfew on Purim, saying “the vaccinations should not make us euphoric. We still don’t have enough vaccinated people to celebrate to unconsciousness on Purim.”

He added that “in order to undo the decree of the evil Haman, the people of Israel fasted for three days upon Esther’s request. I’m not asking people to fast for three days. I just want us to keep the guidelines for the business owners who have just returned, for cultural events, hotels, education. For our health and our lives. For our children who can’t yet be vaccinated. Do not go to parties, not even to Tishim. Celebrate at home.”

Corona Czar Prof. Nachman Ash estimated in a Wednesday interview on Army Radio that the coefficient of infection is expected to rise again.

“Yesterday there were about 4,400 verified patients, which is about what it was last week – and which indicates an increase,” he explained.

As to the decision to impose a night curfew on Purim, Ash said: “We wanted to impose only minimal restrictions, but when news of parties and events started coming in, we had to impose a night curfew. We approved entertainment trucks during the day, but without crowds, I hope they will follow the rules.”

Ash referred to the Netanyahu cabinet’s decision to transfer Corona vaccines to several foreign countries, saying: “I was not a party to this decision. It’s crucial for us to vaccinate the population as soon as possible, so every vaccine is important to us here. I very much hope that the additional vaccine shipments will be brought in soon and the gap will be filled.”

He attacked some mayors’ intention to return seventh- through tenth-grade students to schools on Wednesday, calling the decision irresponsible, born by a lack of understanding of the situation.

Prof. Ash explained that “we are in a fragile period and if returning to school in violation of the guidelines will lead to infection – we will all suffer.”

It should be noted that only five mayors (out of 17) carried out their threat on Wednesday and opened the 7th-10th grades in violation of the guidelines.

Minister of Religious Affairs Yaakov Avitan (Shas) said in an interview on Army radio that on Purim morning (Friday) “it is permissible to celebrate only indoors and only nuclear families. Whoever wants to break the guidelines and become a cruel murderer – there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Actually, there is: we have people who drive black and white cars and wear uniforms (year-round) and they are empowered to arrest those cruel murderers.

Avitan also referred to the call of the rabbis not to get drunk on the holiday and explained: “There is a big difference between joy and debauchery. You can have a drink or two and go out of your way to perform the mitzvah of Purim.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.