Weekend COVID cases top 50,000 as finance minister, Likud MK also tests positive

More than 50,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, Health Ministry data showed Saturday night, with Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Likud MK David Amsalem among those infected.

Meanwhile, the number of serious cases rose by some 80 more people to 387, including 93 people on ventilators, according to ministry data.

In more positive news, the virus’s R-value – measuring how many people each COVID carrier infects – has continued its downward trend in recent days, dropping to 1.71, after falling steadily from a high of 2 ,12 Monday. The figure is based on data from 10 days earlier and values ​​above 1 show that infections are spreading.

In a tweet on Saturday, Liberman said he was “feeling fine” and was being quarantined at his home in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim. “I will continue to conduct responsible economic policy from home, monitor the data and plan the next steps,” he said.

The Health Ministry said 39,015 people had tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and another 11,351 Israelis had been diagnosed as of 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Omicron virus variant has passed through Israel over the past week, leaving the country with 267,734 active patients. The rampage left an additional 193,762 Israelis in quarantine due to exposure to an infected person, ministry figures showed on Saturday.

Medical staff perform rapid COVID-19 antigen tests, at a Magen David Adom testing center in Jerusalem, January 12, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The rate of positive tests continued to rise, reaching 14.02% on Friday, marking a record rate almost unprecedented since the start of the pandemic.

Several other coalition members, including Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, his deputy Idan Roll (Yesh Atid), Public Security Minister Omer Barlev (Labour) and MKs Michael Biton (Blue and White), Yomtob Kalfon (Yamina ) and Emilie Moatti (Labour), who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week.

In opposition, besides Amsalem, three other Likud lawmakers tested positive this week: Haim Katz, Ofir Katz and Etty Atia. Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas), Yisrael Eichler (UTJ), Yitzhak Pindrus (UTJ), Osama Saadi (Joint List) and Ofir Sofer (Religious Zionism) were also infected as early as Wednesday.

Knesset sessions continued despite missing MKs.

The death toll stands at 8,303 after four new fatalities were recorded on Friday and Saturday.

In August-September 2021, when the country was in the throes of a wave of infectious Delta variant, daily deaths averaged over 20 for a period of a few weeks, while throughout the current wave, the toll remained in the single digits, and generally below five.

On Thursday, new quarantine rules began, shortening the isolation of asymptomatic COVID patients from 10 days to seven days. But those who still show symptoms throughout the week will have to continue self-isolating for a total of 10 days.

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