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Israel could see 150-250 COVID-19 deaths per week in August – HU

CM 17/08/2021

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Israel could see between 150 and 250 COVID-19 deaths per week by the end of August, according to predictions made Tuesday by a team of Hebrew University researchers.
The team added that Israel is likely to see another 500 to 1,000 deaths by the end of September.
Since the start of the pandemic, some 6,694 people have died of the virus, including 13 on Monday. Since the beginning of the month, 216 COVID-19 patients have died, compared to 52 in July and eight in June.

The predictions came on a day that Israel marked a six-month record high of daily cases – 8,646 in the last 24 hours, the highest number since February 1, the Health Ministry reported. Some 6.2% of the people who were screened tested positive.
Some 559 were reported in serious condition, up 31 from the day before. 
The news comes as more of the country turns from green to orange and red. There are 49 red cities, according to the Health Ministry’s website.
More than 55,000 people are currently sick with coronavirus in Israel. The state will soon reach one million people who have been infected with the virus since the pandemic began in early 2020. 
Severe morbidity in the vaccinated population, however, is on the decline, according to the HU report. But it noted that there is a continual rise among the unvaccinated and that the chance of an unvaccinated person over the age of 70 developing serious COVID-19 is seven times higher than for a person who is vaccinated. 
With the decline among serious cases, Israel is less likely to reach the feared 2,000 or more serious cases officials were talking about before the third shot campaign was launched. The researchers said more likely Israel will be close to 1,200 serious patients at a time – or even less. 
On Monday night, the government decided that students in grades 8-12 who live in “red” cities with high infection rates and where at least 70% of other students in their class are not vaccinated will have to learn online and not in schools.
The new policy was made in a joint announcement by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton. They said that 70% of students will be determined by combining those students who are vaccinated with those who have recovered from the virus and who tested positive for having antibodies against it.
In red cities where at least 70% of students are vaccinated or recovered, frontal learning will continue.
Israelis wearing masks crowd the Jerusalem light rail, October 2020. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)Israelis wearing masks crowd the Jerusalem light rail, October 2020. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Younger grades will be subject to the Magen Hinuch or “Education Shield” program, which requires that unvaccinated students be tested every week in schools in red and orange cities to help detect infection early. 
The Health Ministry said that it will designate the color of municipalities each week on Wednesday.
School is slated to start on September 1, with the government and education system working to enable this to happen. However, on Monday, Health Minister Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash warned again that “if we do not see a slowdown in morbidity, we will reach a situation where we must postpone the start of the year.”
Last week, the Education and Health ministries shared their five-tiered plan for keeping children safe, which includes serological and rapid antigen testing and the Magen Hinuch program. In addition, a special “Green Class” outline is meant to allow students to stay in school if they are negative for the virus even after they were in contact with a classmate who was found to be infected. 
The Education Ministry has said that it expects around 5,000 students to be diagnosed with coronavirus once the school year starts. One week after the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) schools opened, the ministry reported a 130% jump in the number of infected haredi students compared to its report at the beginning of the month.
Finally, the ministries are requiring all students to wear masks nearly all the time when learning indoors, except during exams and gym classes.
Bennett plans to make a strong push over the next two weeks to get more 12- to 15-year-olds vaccinated before the start of the school year. 
Currently, around 38% of these students have been inoculated. 
On Friday, Horowitz said that he would push to ensure students can vaccinate at school, going against strongly-worded statements made by the Education minister. The government has not concluded discussions on the subject, but health officials connected to the debate have said it is likely that vaccination will be offered before or after school and, of course, with parental consent.
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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