Israeli health officials have predicted that one in four Israelis will be infected with Covid-19 within two weeks and that the country is heading towards a herd immunity against the infectious disease.
According to Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash, herd immunity against Covid-19 is possible in the country, but at the cost of many infections, Jerusalem Post reported. "The price of herd immunity is very many infections, and that may be what will happen. The numbers need to be high to reach herd immunity, this is something that is possible," Ash was quoted as saying to 103FM Radio on Sunday.
Israel has recorded an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned: "The storm is coming towards us." It registered almost 5,500 new coronavirus cases on December 31 - three times more than in the previous week - with almost 4 per cent of the tests returning a positive result, Health Ministry data has revealed.
Weizmann Institute of Science professor Eran Segal, who also advises the government, predicted on Kan Radio that one in every four Israelis will be infected with Covid-19 within two weeks.
Health Ministry data showed an additional 4,200 new virus carriers were identified on January 1, with almost 100,000 tests processed. Overall, almost 27,000 new cases were found in the past seven days, a 200 per cent increase compared to the previous week.
The number of serious patients also rose. As of Sunday, they were 110. For most of the past two weeks, the figure fluctuated between 80 and 90. On Saturday night, they were 110, the report said. "We all already feel the increase in infections and we are likely to see that they double and double again," Bennett said while opening the weekly cabinet meeting.
"Along with the expected workload on hospitals, it should be remembered that a situation of tens of thousands of new cases per day will be very difficult to manage logistically," he said.
Over 40 per cent of the new virus carriers identified in the past had received a booster. The country has also recently rolled out a fourth booster dose for healthcare workers and is in the process of evaluating its need for the general public.
Meanwhile, Israel has also reportedly documented the first case of "Florona" -- a simultaneous infection with the Covid-19 and influenza. According to the news website Ynetnews, the double infection was first identified in a woman who went into labour at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
As per the hospital, the young mother is not vaccinated against either pathogen. The report said that the Health Ministry is still examining the case, which was relatively mild, and is yet to determine whether a combination of the two viruses causes more severe illness. Health officials estimate many other patients have also come down with both bugs but have not been diagnosed, the report said.