JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli hospital on Tuesday confirmed the first known death in the country of a patient with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, but said he had suffered from a number of serious pre-existing conditions. The Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba said the man, in his sixties, died on Monday, two weeks after he was admitted to the coronavirus ward.
A hospital statement said the patient suffered from a variety of serious illnesses. “His morbidity stemmed mainly from pre-existing sicknesses and not from respiratory infection arising from the coronavirus,” it said.
A PCR test led to suspicion that the Omicron variant was present so it was sent for DNA analysis, the statement added.
Israeli media reports from The Times of Israel and Ynet said the patient had received two vaccine doses.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Health Ministry said there were at least 340 known cases of Omicron in Israel.
Israel’s government approved reducing office attendance by 50% for public sector employees, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said, to encourage more remote work.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s office said he ordered the military’s Homefront Command, which is tasked with anti-pandemic measures, to prepare for the eventuality of 5,000 new cases per day.
(Reporting by Dan Williams; Writing by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Dan Grebler)