On January 18, doctors were attending to a COVID-19 patient in the isolation ward of the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel. Jack Guez / AFP / Getty Images
Israel has seen the highest number of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. On Monday, 10,021 people were added to the list of Covid-19 patients.
The health ministry’s new numbers were “worrying,” said the country’s coronazar, Dr. Nahman Ash, on Tuesday morning on Israeli radio, highlighting a positivity rate in tests of 10.2%.
Of particular concern are the positivity rates in ultra-Orthodox areas, which are more than double the national figure, currently between 20% and 22%, Ash added.
The total number of cases since the pandemic started stands at 562,167, with the death toll in Israel now standing at 4,049 according to the latest figures.
The surge in numbers comes just days before Israel emerges from its third lockdown. Ash told radio listeners he hoped a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon would approve another two-week extension.
The Ministry of Health figures show that vaccination is progressing rapidly. 2,185,113 people have now received their first dose from around 9 million residents. 420,015 have received their second dose.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will stand in front of the voters in a fourth election in two years in March, has made Israel’s world-leading vaccination program the central message of his re-election campaign.
In a new video posted on his Facebook page, the prime minister is standing in his office describing a display case in which a replica of a Roman arrow and a miniature Israeli arrow rocket are mounted. He then moves on to another showcase that houses the syringe that gave him his first coronavirus vaccine injection last month.
“Another arrow,” he says.
Engraved underneath the case is the sentence the nation’s prime minister offered live on television the night he received his first dose: “A little syringe for man, a big leap for the health of all of us.”