Daily coronavirus cases reached another high Monday, with some 1,700 new confirmed carriers identified throughout the day, numbers not seen since mid-March.
The number of active cases as of Monday night stood at 12,385, with 121 severe cases and the death toll steady at 6,461.
According to figures cited by Channel 12 Monday, some 2,000 travelers infected with COVID-19 entered Israel this month.
The rate of positive tests rose above 2 percent for the first time since March on Sunday.
Prof. Galia Rahav, director of the infectious diseases unit at Sheba Medical Center, told Kan news that the rise in serious cases — they reached a low of 19 last month — was concerning and required action.
“We need to convince the unvaccinated to get vaccinated,” she said. “If we reach herd immunity, we will avoid lockdowns in the future.”
The number of COVID patients in serious condition has doubled in just the past 10 days, but is still a fraction of the peak seen during the third wave, in January, when there were more than 1,200 serious cases. During the second wave in the fall, serious cases hit a peak of 850 in October.
Earlier this month, the coronavirus cabinet agreed that “the leading parameter” for instating new COVID restrictions would be the measure of serious cases. At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowed to continue “insisting on sustaining livelihoods, the economy, education, and the freedom of Israeli citizens” through the use of masks and vaccines, rather than instituting new lockdowns.
Hebrew media reported that among the recent cases, 12 were of the so-called Delta Plus variant, a further mutation of the ultra-infectious Delta strain. Most of those cases were among returnees from Georgia, and there were reportedly indications that there was more than one infection chain.
Health authorities still don’t know whether the variant is more infectious or dangerous than the Delta variant.
However, starting Monday night, travelers won’t be allowed to have others accompany them or greet them inside Ben Gurion Airport’s terminals, in an attempt to minimize infections there. Those accompanying a minor or a person with special needs will be exempt from that rule.