A the country keeps breaking coronavirus infection records spurred by the highly infectious Omicron variant, a senior health expert said Wednesday that Israel will likely see over two million active cases in two weeks.
Prof. Eran Segal from the Weizmann Institute told Ynet that research around the world has shown the true number of Omicron infections are three or four times higher than those identified in testing.
Segal has developed a coronavirus prediction model that is used by the coronavirus cabinet.
"It is possible that one out of every 15 Israelis is either infected or can infect others," he said. "At the peak of the Omicron wave, some two million Israelis will be infected and in total anywhere between two and four million will have been exposed to the virus.
Segal said the peak will come within the next two weeks and will be followed by an eventual drop in morbidity.
"By next week, we may see one in 10 or even one in eight infected and be a carrier of the disease. I must stress the importance of vaccines and minimal exposure [to virus], especially among the at-risk population because we are already observing an increase in serious illness," he said.
Researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem also estimated that within a fortnight, Israel will have a record of between 800,000 and two million people actively ill with COVID-19.
They found that anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 people will be hospitalized in serious condition, 2.5% of them under the age of 11.
The researcher recommended restrictions be implemented on congregation of large crowds, and added that morbidity will likely begin to drop at the end of January.
"No country was able to prevent the spread of Omicron," Prof. Segal said, "but it is possible to reduce the number of seriously ill patients. It is time to work from home and avoid crowds and social gatherings," he said.
"This is the time to be cautious in order to minimize the risk of the disease and complications. It is in our hands," he said.