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Serious Cases Drop Below 100 for First Time in Almost 5 Months, Even as Omicron Continues to Spread

Israel announced Thursday that for the first time in four and a half months, the number of serious COVID-19 cases in the country is below 100. The numbers have been steadily dropping over the past month, from 157 on November 9 to 96 people currently.

Omicron continues to spread, but initial reports are that it is not as dangerous as other variants, though it appears to be more contagious. The number of people infected with the Omicron variant has now risen to 21 in Israel, and the R factor (how many people you might spread it to potentially) is climbing. Anything above a “1” indicates that the virus is growing in its reach…Israel is now at 1.09.

As of last Friday, Omicron was detected in 38 nations and has not resulted in any deaths yet, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Professor Dror Mevorach, at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, is hopeful that Omicron could “downgrade the severity of coronavirus illness.”

“On the one hand, Omicron is a menace, but on the other hand, it may represent the variant we wish for. What is that we wish for? One hope is that the disease disappears. But, if it doesn’t, we want a variant that’s transmitted easily but causes only very mild disease,” Mevorach said. “It looks now like Omicron could represent this, and I see this possibility. If this is the case, it could transform the disease from something that is very threatening and causes illness and mortality to something that is more like the flu, which does cause illness and mortality but in smaller numbers. I’m optimistic—though I know that in three or four weeks, that could change.”

There are currently 5,971 active cases of COVID-19 in Israel, with 651 new coronavirus cases diagnosed on Wednesday and another 153 overnight. According to the Health Ministry, 100,000 people were tested on Wednesday, and less than 1 percent (.69 percent) were positive.

Health officials are requiring a 14-day quarantine for those infected with Omicron, rather than the 10 days required for the other variants. And the controversial tracking system where Shin Bet (like the FBI in the US) was keeping tabs on those with Omicron has ended.

Omicron first emerged in South Africa, and Israel has once again shut the doors to foreigners for now (so…tours are on hold again…). The good news is that the vaccine seems to be holding its own against Omicron, preventing serious illness, so maybe this will not result in the fifth wave of corona for Israel…and we can welcome our much-missed guests once again!

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