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Israel hits new record in virus cases, as government mulls closure extension

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Medics care for a COVID-19 patient at the Sheba Medical Center's isolation ward, in Ramat Gan, Israel, on January 18.
Medics care for a COVID-19 patient at the Sheba Medical Center’s isolation ward, in Ramat Gan, Israel, on January 18. Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Israel has recorded its highest figure of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, with 10,021 people added to the list of Covid-19 sufferers on Monday.

The new Ministry of Health figures were “worrying,” the country’s corona czar, Dr. Nahman Ash, admitted on Israeli radio Tuesday morning, highlighting a positivity rate in tests of 10.2%.

Of particular concern are positivity rates in ultra-Orthodox areas, which are more than double the national figure, currently between 20-22%, Ash added.

The total number of cases since the pandemic began now stands at 562,167, with the number of fatalities in Israel now recorded at 4,049, according to the latest figures.

The climb in numbers comes just days before Israel is due to emerge from what was labeled its third lockdown. Ash told radio listeners he hoped a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the Cabinet would approve a further extension of two weeks.

Health Ministry figures show that vaccination continues apace, with 2,185,113 people having now received their first dose, out of a population of about 9 million; 420,015 have received their second dose.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces the electorate in a fourth election in two years in March, has made Israel’s world-leading vaccination program the central message of his re-election campaign.

In a new video posted to his Facebook page, the Prime Minister is seen standing in his office describing a display case inside which are mounted a replica of a Roman arrow and a miniature of Israel’s Arrow missile. He then moves on to another display case inside which is mounted the syringe with which he received his first coronavirus vaccine injection last month.

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“Another arrow,” he says.

Underneath the case is engraved the phrase the Prime Minister offered the nation on the evening he received his first dose, live on television, “A small injection for man, a giant leap for the health of us all.”

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