JVP-HAC: Covid 19 Timeline January 16 – 22, 2022

J. W. Associate Blog, Gaza, Humanitarian affairs, Israel, Palestine

by Alice Rothchild, MD

We’re pleased to repost this weekly report by JWE board member Alice Rothchild, MD, which was earlier posted by the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council (JVP-HAC)

This resource will be updated regularly to provide a full picture of the unfolding pandemic and the medical, political and economic ramifications in real time.

Please note that Coronavirus cases are an underestimate given the lack of testing, resources, and asymptomatic carriers, and up-to-date numbers from the oPt are often confusing. In Israel, the overwhelmed government is encouraging at-home testing which may get counted. We recognize that in resource poor areas just as Gaza and the West Bank, these numbers are a major underrepresentation and fail to fully reflect the impact of the pandemic.

If you would like to receive this weekly timeline, a monthly Media Watch, and the occasional article/action alert, please email us at health@jewishvoiceforpeace.org

Cumulative coronavirus cases in Israel and the occupied territories
Cumulative cases of coronavirus in Gaza

As of January 22, 2022
Israel 2,168,016
West Bank
(excl EJ) 246,015 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
East Jerusalem 30,945
(Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system) (unchanged in 3 weeks ? accuracy)
for Jerusalem governorate 43,174  (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Gaza 192,209
(1/19 MOH), 192,860 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Total 480,583
(1/21 Reuters Covid 19 tracker), 480,583 (1/21 WHO) 482,049( Corona-Covid 19 surveillance system)

As of January 15, 2022
Israel 1,718,989
West Bank
(excl EJ) 241,775 (1/16 Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
East Jerusalem 30,945
(Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system) (unchanged in 2 weeks ? accuracy)
for Jerusalem governorate  42,916 (1/16 Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Gaza 191,565
(MOH), 191,635 (1/16  Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Total 474,762
(Reuters Covid 19 tracker), 476,326 (1/16 Corona-Covid 19 surveillance system)

As of January 8, 2022
Israel 1,463,200
West Bank
(excl EJ) 238,930 (Corona-Covid 19 surveillance system)
East Jerusalem 30,945
(Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
for Jerusalem governorate 42,794 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Gaza 190,919
(MOH), 190,920 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)
Total 472,490
(Reuters Covid 19 tracker), 471,414 ( 1/7 WHO), 472,644 (Coronavirus – Covid 19 surveillance system)

January 16 Israel
The Israel Association of Public Health Physicians drew a backlash from the Health Ministry after its chairman called upon Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to limit testing and quarantine to symptomatic COVID-19 patients, people at high-risk, and those who regularly come in contact with them. 
Following the statement’s initial publication, the association later expressed “regret over the hasty announcement sent earlier today,” clarifying that the statement was released on behalf of the group by its chairman, Prof. Hagai Levine, without proper consultation. “[The statement] was made solely based on his opinion and is completely unacceptable to the Medical Association’s Coronavirus Experts Forum,” the statement read.

Israel is in the “eye of the storm” of its Omicron wave, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, as some hospitals running close to capacity warned they may need to turn away patients. Bennett told a cabinet meeting that he knew the country was in the midst of  “difficult weeks,” but reassured that “it won’t last forever.” He also said that the government had secured a million more antigen tests to keep track of the spiraling infections.
At the same time, Israeli Health Minister Horowitz instructed officials to cut isolation time for people diagnosed with COVID-19 to five days; last week the isolation period was reduced from 10 days to seven.

January 17 Israel
From psychologists to respiratory technicians: the fifth COVID wave has caught Israeli health care personnel in hospitals and clinics in a state of unbearable devastation – emotionally, physically and financially. “We all suffer from trauma and post-trauma – but medical teams even more so.”

January 18 International
WHO press conference on Covid 19 covering a wide range of topics, overview of international realities and responses.

January 18 Israel
Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash predicted that Israel’s current Omicron-fueled COVID wave will likely wane by the end of the month, though the country will still face “increases in the coming week.” According to the latest Health Ministry data, the number of coronavirus patients in serious condition stands at 498, a significant increase since last week, but still one third of the record number of cases during the country’s third COVID wave. Moreover, 100 patients are connected to respirators and another 13 to ECMO machines.

Arkia asked the Tel Aviv Labor Court on 1/17 for an urgent injunction to force its pilots to fly to South Korea in order to fill a government contract to transport rapid antigen tests. Cargo flights to South Korea scheduled over the next few days will have to be canceled due to pilots’ labor sanctions, the company said.
The union stated in response that the way the 16-hour flight legs were being scheduled would require some of pilots to spend almost a week away from home. The company didn’t even bother to tell the pilots where they would be staying in Seoul, the union said, adding that the company’s management is trying to use the court to force its will on the pilots.

Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that he wants to “abolish” the Green Pass, Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination or recovery certificate, which is currently needed to enter many public venues. According to Lieberman, “there’s no medical or epidemiological logic to the Green Pass, and many experts agree with this.” He said in a tweet: “What it does do is directly harm the economy’s daily functioning, and it also makes a sizable contribution to panic among the public. I’m working with all the relevant parties to abolish the Green Pass so as to protect our normal daily routine.”

Preliminary results from a small Israeli study examining the effects of a fourth coronavirus vaccine dose suggest that despite an increase in antibody levels, the additional dose a few months after a third shot may not do much more to prevent infection with the Omicron variant.
New York Times

January 19 Gaza
This week between 0 and 3 people died per day from the coronavirus, bringing the total death rate to 1,734 with a total of 188,853 recoveries.
Ministry of Health  

January 19 Israel
Less than three weeks after it arrived in Israel and at a time when the infection numbers have broken records, only about 2,800 high-risk coronavirus patients have received the drug Paxlovid for the prevention of severe illness. The medication is supposed to save many lives and relieve the pressure hospitals, but getting it to the patients who need and qualify for it is turning out to be a complex challenge with many limitations, both medical and administrative. The health maintenance organizations face complex challenges in administering the drug and high levels of patient refusal to take it.

Over 71,000 new COVID cases have been diagnosed in Israel as a shortened isolation period went into effect and officials considered exempting students from quarantine. Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash said the number of new cases could be 2-3 times higher than the official data. There are 8,129 medical workers who have been infected and are in isolation. 

January 20 Israel
Israel will exempt schoolchildren from quarantine if they are exposed to a COVID carrier starting 1/27, as record numbers of students are stuck at home, threatening to drive the economy to a standstill. All students will be required to take a home antigen test every Sunday and Wednesday before going to school. COVID boosters have been approved for at-risk children ages 5-11, but this will only apply to 163 children.

January 21 Occupied territories
Reuters reports that the average number of new infections reported in Palestinian territories has been consistently increasing for 12 days. Over the last week in oPt, 831 cases on average were reported each day, or 33% of peak. Palestinian territories have reported 480,583 infections and 5,042 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. At least 3,425,379 doses of vaccines have been administered in oPt. Assuming every person needs two doses, that’s enough to cover about 36.6% of the population. During the last week reported, Palestinian territories averaged 3,012 doses each day. At that rate, it will take a further 312 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population. Since boosters are now widely recommended, the adequacy of this coverage shrinks accordingly.

Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that 1,468 new cases of COVID-19, five deaths and 486 recoveries were registered in Palestine during the last 24 hours.
In her daily report on the coronavirus pandemic, Alkaila said three deaths from COVID-19 were registered in the West Bank, while another two deaths were recorded in Gaza.
A total of 7,835 COVID-19 tests were conducted during the reporting period. In the Gaza Strip, 356 coronavirus tests came out positive, while the West Bank had 1,112 new cases. No update was available from occupied East Jerusalem.
The Health Minister said that in the West Bank, 88 patients of COVID-19 are currently hospitalized, of whom 58 are in intensive care, including 24 on ventilators.
She pointed out that the recovery rate in Palestine has so far reached 97%, while active cases rose to 2%. Deaths stood at 1% of total infections.

January 22 Occupied territories
Two people have died of coronavirus in Palestine in the last 24 hours as 928 new cases were confirmed, today said the Ministry of Health.
One person died in the West Bank where 750 new cases were recorded and 391 patients have recovered, and the second person who died was in the Gaza Strip where 178 new cases and 70 recoveries were recorded.
The ministry said 92 Covid-19 patients are getting treatment in hospitals while 56 are critical in intensive care, including 23 who are attached to ventilators.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA) published a 2022 humanitarian overview of the occupied Palestinian territories. With respect to Covid-19, the impact of the pandemic has also intensified, with a third wave underway in Gaza and a fourth in the West Bank, burdening the already-stretched health-care system and increasing poverty levels. The pandemic is also intensifying needs and vulnerabilities, with 62% of households in the oPt reporting that their monthly income had decreased as a result of COVID-19.
The key drivers of the humanitarian crisis combined with COVID-19, have deepened the vulnerability of Palestinians and in turn have increased the demand for humanitarian assistance across the oPt, a trend likely to continue in 2022. Overall, 2.1 million Palestinians, 1.3 million in Gaza and 750,000 in West Bank, will need assistance in 2022. Some 63% of all Gaza residents, and 23% of those in the West Bank require humanitarian assistance. 

Thanks to Trude Bennett