Professor Nachman Ash
Professor Nachman Ash Flash 90

The director general of the Ministry of Health, Prof. Nachman Ash, told Channel 13 News in an interview on Friday that next week is "critical" for his ministry in terms of estimating the number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition and the number of patients in serious condition who are connected to ECMO machines.

"If we see that the numbers are rising quickly, then we will have to seriously consider imposing a lockdown," said Ash.

On the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines, he said, "If we see a decrease in cases following the fourth vaccine - then we can recommend lowering the age for vaccination for the rest of the population. Right now this is not on the table, [but] if we see data to support it - we will do it."

The director general of the Ministry of Health also commented on the data showing that antigen tests are less reliable in detecting COVID-19.

“It is a matter of policy, we implemented the rapid tests relatively late because we had more than enough accurate PCR kits. The Omicron changed the rules of the game because of the high numbers. The antigen test is less sensitive than PCR but it is good enough to detect cases," he said.

The Health Ministry reported on Friday morning that a total of 40,430 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed on Thursday.

The tally does not include home antigen tests performed by those who are not required to undergo official tests. On Thursday, Professor Galia Rahav, top doctor at Sheba Medical Center, estimated that the true number is three times the official number.

Of the COVID-19 test results received Thursday, 12.65% were positive - a slight rise from Wednesday's 12.03%, but not significantly changed relative to the rest of the week.

Across the country, there are 306 coronavirus patients in serious condition, among them 86 whose condition is critical and 76 who are intubated. 12 COVID-19 patients are on ECMO machines.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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