Israel’s coronavirus reproductive rate (R-rate) is on the rise again, reaching 0.95 for the first time since late March. The coronavirus R-rate refers to the number of people that each person with COVID-19 will infect on average, meaning that once it is above one, the spread of the virus will rapidly pick up pace.

Does this mean that there is a reason to worry?

Although the R-rate has already reached 0.95, it has not hit the crucial 1.0 mark, meaning that as of yet, there is no reason for immediate concern. However, the speed at which it is rising might indicate that it will hit one in the coming days, and only increase from there.

As there is currently no new variant of concern, it is highly unlikely that the numbers will spike dramatically. It is instead more likely that localized outbreaks are occurring across the country. Independence Day was celebrated only last week, and it is entirely possible that the sudden spike in the R-rate is due to large celebrations held across the country.

When looking at the daily coronavirus statistics, it is easy to feel as though the disease is behind us. However, for the last few months, the numbers have gotten less and less accurate as more and more people have stopped taking authorized PCR and antigen tests. Instead, many have turned to the rapid at-home antigen tests, which provide quick results. Upon receiving a positive result, people, especially those with symptoms who feel unwell, will not then make the trip to a government testing station to verify what they already know.

As a result, there is no real way of knowing how many people have COVID-19 at any one time, although it is safe to assume the number is far higher than what is being reported.

For example, although only 2,086 new coronavirus cases were recorded on Thursday, only 53,031 authorized PCR and antigen tests were taken. Because of the lack of accurate data available, it is much harder to know whether or not this low number is accurate, or whether the number of infected people is rising without us even knowing.

However, back in April, the number of tests being taken was similar to what can be seen today – around 50,000-55,000 daily authorized COVID-19 tests. And yet, the reported number of infections was almost doubled, at around 4,000 a day. This can give us a more accurate understanding of the numbers we are seeing now. Even though they are not entirely accurate, the number of tests being taken daily is more or less consistent, allowing us to see that the infection is likely to be lower now than it was this time last month.

Even if numbers are rising, serious cases have not

ONE OF THE main causes of concern during a large COVID-19 outbreak is the impact that it will have on a country’s healthcare system. At the peak of Israel’s Omicron wave, more than 1,200 people were reported as being in serious condition, and multiple hospitals across the country were operating either at or above capacity.

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