Four days after the the reopening of the country’s kindergartens, the Health Ministry said Thursday that 34 kindergarten teachers have tested positive for the coronavirus, out of the 1,506 educators who received tests results a day earlier.
The rate of infection raises concerns about a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases as Israel comes out of a month-long lockdown, with officials fearing a repeat of the spiraling morbidity seen after the end of the first nationwide closure in May.
The Health Ministry said there were 1,089 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing Israel close to its target of 1,000 daily cases before further lockdown restrictions are lifted.
The country conducted 40,915 tests, yielding an overall positivity rate of 2.7%, far below a peak of some 14% before lockdown began in mid-September.
Wednesday's tests included random sampling within two at-risk sectors - retirement homes, which during the first wave were badly hit by COVID, and ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, where morbidity has remained high throughout the pandemic.
The 12,835 tests in retirement homes yielded a positivity rate of 0.4%, while the 1,560 tests carried out in yeshivas showed an infection rate of 1.6%.
The other 25,000 or so tests were carried out among the general population, with subjects either showing symptoms or having come into contact with a confirmed carrier of the virus. The infection rate for those tests was 3.9%.
There are currently 1,062 coronavirus patients hospitalized throughout the country. There are 518 people in serious condition, including 231 on ventilators.
Israel's death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 2,292, while the mortality rate stands at 0.74% - meaning one out of every 134 COVID-19 patients succumbs to virus-related complications.
There are currently 19,344 active COVID-19 patients in Israel. Jerusalem currently has the largest concentration of active patients in Israel, with 2,769 verified cases.