According to the government report on Wednesday, Israel has recorded its highest number of new coronavirus infections driven by the ultra-contagious omicron variant despite travel restrictions and required quarantines.
The record of 11,978 cases diagnosed on Tuesday marks the most cases of new infections reported in a single day since the pandemic's start. The previous record was set on September 2, with 11,345 new infections logged during the delta variant's wave. First detected in South Africa, Omicron is more contagious but causes fewer severe illness and death cases even among the vaccinated people.
In Israel, as elsewhere, the variant is spreading so fast, straining testing, schools, hospitals, and airlines that have some experts are urging a focus instead on hospital admissions. Those and deaths from coronavirus aren't climbing as quickly. As a result, experts say, of protections offered by vaccinations.
The rapid climb in infections has pushed Israeli leaders far from the clear protocol of vaccinations, testing, quarantine, and contact tracing that characterized the government's response early in the pandemic. The country's speedy vaccination early on made Israel a world leader.
Now, Israel is believed to be the first country to offer the 4th vaccination to people 60 and older and those with compromised immune systems.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday said early results from a study at Sheba Medical Center showed a nearly five-fold increase in antibodies among people with a 4th Jab.
Israel is rapidly changing rules and practices to adapt, including scaling back quarantines to keep the economy from shutting down. More changes are expected, and the demand for testing is likely to prompt the government to focus tests on high-risk groups, such as older people.