Coronavirus ward, Ichilov Hospital Tel Aviv
Coronavirus ward, Ichilov Hospital Tel Aviv Eitan Elhadez / TPS

The Health Ministry reported today (Thursday) that the first ten cases of the AY3 coronavirus strain based on the Delta strain had been found in Israel. The AY3 strain is based on the Delta variant, from which a number of further mutations have been found, including several considered more "virulent." Of those infected, eight had returned from abroad and two were infected inside Israel.

This week, a representative of the Health Ministry in the Knesset said of the strain that it "causes concern and will lead us to lockdown" and expressed concern about the possibility of it being discovered in Israel, since it is a variant with a high infection rate that can develop a resistance to the coronavirus vaccines.

The Health Ministry on Thursday morning reported that the number of severe coronavirus cases had reached 603.

At the same time, the Ministry reported that 7,856 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed on Wednesday, representing 5.50% of the coronavirus test results received.

There are currently 62,163 active coronavirus cases, and the country has so far seen 6,726 coronavirus deaths, including 17 who died on Tuesday and four who died Wednesday.

Nearly one thousand (994) coronavirus patients are hospitalized, including the 603 who are in serious condition, of whom 149 are in critical condition, with 106 patients intubated.

Earlier this month, the Health Ministry said that if Israel reaches 600-700 severe coronavirus cases, the country will need to lock down in order to avoid overwhelming the hospitals.

The reason for this is that Israel's hospitals are able to properly care for just 1,200 coronavirus patients, and reaching the Ministry benchmark would signal that hospitals would reach maximum capacity within the coming weeks.