Israel's severe COVID-19 caseload has shot up to 871 from just 101 on New Year's, according to Health Ministry data published Tuesday evening, as a record-breaking outbreak stoked by the Omicron variant continues to sweep through the country.
This is the highest such figure on record since last February, almost a year ago. Of the gravely ill, 181 patients were connected to ventilators.
Data show ten patients under the age of 19 are hospitalized with the coronavirus in serious condition — seven of whom are unvaccinated.
It should be noted that the Health Ministry also includes in its tally patients who were hospitalized for different reasons and happened to also test positive for the virus. Data does not specify how many patients were hospitalized for coronavirus-related complications.
Additionally, 12 and 17 patients in their 20s and 30s were in serious condition, respectively, while 35 and 76 patients in their 40s and 50s were in serious condition, respectively.
All other patients are 60 and older, with octogenarians accounting for almost 30% of all severe cases, most of who are vaccinated.
Data also suggests vaccinated patients aged 60 and over are 6.7 times less likely to develop severe COVID-19 illness than their unvaccinated compatriots. In the under 60 age group, the vaccinated are three times less likely to become seriously ill than the unvaccinated.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military's National Coronavirus Information and Knowledge Center said on Tuesday it was monitoring initial reports of children who developed pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome, or PIMS, after recovering from Omicron alongside other neurological conditions. PIMS usually sets in a small fraction of children several weeks after recovering from coronavirus and can be deadly.
According to the Center, such cases were reported in Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma and Michigan, with some states reporting higher PIMS incidences than before.
Most children who have developed the condition were reportedly unvaccinated. A recent study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that vaccinated children were up to 91% less susceptible to PIMS.
These reports raise concerns among decision-makers as Israel is poised to enact a new policy starting Thursday that will no longer require school students to go into isolation after coming into contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient.
As announced last week by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, every student will have to get tested biweekly using home test kits that will be provided by the state as mounting Omicron infections cripple the country's education system.