The Jerusalem Post

Slight rise in COVID cases but no cause for concern, expert says


Israel is registerin­g a slight increase in the number of its coronaviru­s cases. But according to Prof. Eyal Leshem, director of Sheba Medical Center’s Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases, the developmen­t is not a cause for concern.

The number of active cases currently stands at 231, after dropping significan­tly below 190 in the past few days.

Some 28 new cases were identified on Tuesday and 25 on Monday, according to the Health Ministry, marking a slight growth compared to previous days.

“The small increase we are experienci­ng is primarily related to people coming back from abroad, and sometimes not respecting quarantine requiremen­ts,” Leshem said.

Health Ministry data shows that the majority of new cases identified since the beginning of the month, came from abroad – 142 compared to 99 cases of people infected in Israel.

“However, we have to remember that we are talking about small numbers,” Leshem noted, adding that Israel appears to have reached some form of herd immunity, and that even new cases entering the country have only rarely caused local outbreaks, and if so, only in a limited way.

“These numbers are not a concern from a public health perspectiv­e. The only recommenda­tion would be for those who are not vaccinated to go and do it as soon as possible, because they are still exposed,” he noted, pointing out that there are still about 200,000 people over the age of 50 who are not inoculated.

When the numbers are so low, the R or reproducti­on rate – which measures how many people each virus carrier infects on average and therefore the ability of the disease to spread – loses meaning, according to Leshem. Therefore, it is not worrisome that the R is currently above 1 – the number that in the past indicated the pandemic was not receding.

Israel will not reach a situation where the virus does not exist anymore, Leshem noted, but the vaccine has been highly effective in preventing severe illness.

The number of serious patients has continued to decline. As of Wednesday, there were only 25 patients in serious conditions; a month earlier, there were 53. At the peak of the pandemic in January, they were more than 1,200, placing an unpreceden­ted burden on the health system.

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