Photo Credit: Yossi Aloni/Flash90
These three Israeli children form Moshav Yashresh can't wait to start the new school year on September 1, 2021.

One hundred twenty-four thousand school children and 6,500 school staff members are in isolation, and more than 3,000 school children tested positive for the coronavirus on Shabbat, with Wednesday, September 1, the official start of the new school year only three days away.

Corona Czar Professor Salman Zarqa warned on Sunday morning that Israel’s hospitals are now under the heaviest load they had endured since the pandemic began.

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Zarqa stressed that “the virus is here and will continue to be here. There will probably also be a fifth wave after the fourth.”

Zarqa told Kan 11 News that the situation was due to a combination of the growing Corona morbidity, an unexpected outbreak of non-Corona respiratory illnesses, and the fact that hospitals have begun to take in patients who had been advised to stay home during the pandemic for fear of their infection.

Prof. Zarqa said that at the moment hospital internal units are also full, and they employ most of the manpower needed to treat Corona patients. In the past they would have converted those internal units, turning them into Corona units, but currently, in many cases, this option is not available.

Referred to the opening of the new school year, the Corona Czar said: “It’s impossible to both open schools and permitting large gatherings when the situation in the hospitals is stretched to the limit. As the trend continues, it’s not reasonable to close down schools. The country’s priorities should be different. First the schools and then soccer and culture events.”

As of Sunday morning, there are 726 critical Corona patients, with 149 on respirators, compared to 703 critical patients with 153 on respirators on Saturday. Eight Corona patients have died over the past 24 hours.

The vaccination picture in Israel is improving. As of Sunday morning, there are 1,962,253 who received the third dose; 5,468,809 a second; and 5,951,706 who have received the first dose of the vaccine.

This week, the third vaccination campaign is expected to be extended to all age groups. This means that once the Health Ministry announces that it’s possible – anyone who was vaccinated with a second dose at least five months ago would be able to receive the third dose, except for recovering Corona patients.

To date, more than half of those aged 30 and over in Israel have been vaccinated with the booster dose, and health officials report the positive effect of the high vaccination volume on morbidity data and the signs that the pandemic continues to slow down, however gradually.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.