On Friday, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in Israel went below the 200 mark for the first time in the last three months. This is yet another indication that the pandemic is showing a downward trend and retreating. According to the statistics from the Health Ministry on Friday morning, the total number of serious cases in Israel was around 196, which included 74 people who were on ventilators. The total number of people who were hospitalized due to infection was around 581 and there were light symptoms reported in about 228 of these patients.
The last time the number of serious coronavirus patients had been around 200 was back on January 9th. After that, the Omicron variant of the virus had wreaked havoc and sent the number of cases surging to record highs. According to the Health Ministry, the total number of active cases in Israel stood at 40,428 and this included the 4,704 new cases that had been diagnosed on Thursday. More than 4 million cases have been diagnosed in the country since the beginning of the pandemic. The total death toll in the country was about 10,612 and the last week saw 18 people lose their lives.
Meanwhile, the statistics from the Health Ministry also showed that the positivity rate was also in decline, as it stood at 8.4% on Thursday. As for the transmission number, called the ‘R’ number which measures the number of people who can be infected by a carrier, had also reduced to 0.73. When the transmission number is below 1, it means the virus is abating. This R number had gone below the 1 mark earlier this month after it had increased for two weeks. During this time, the increasing morbidity figures had given rise to concerns that there could be another outbreak in the country.
However, the recent official statistics indicate that the pandemic is indeed receding in Israel. In fact, Nachman Ash, the Director-General of the Health Ministry had stated back in March that they could soon scrap the remaining coronavirus restrictions that are still in place in Israel. This includes the mask mandate, which is widely flouted by people. But, another leading health official was not in favor of ending the restrictions so quickly. The head of public health services of the Israeli Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis is opposed to the idea of putting the restrictions to an end.
While these basic restrictions are still in effect in Israel, it should be noted that the government decided against imposing any new ones in light of the Passover holiday in the country, which began Friday evening. This makes it the first time in the last two years for the holiday to be celebrated without any restrictions. Previously, the Jewish holiday had been celebrated during lockdown and full gatherings had not been permitted. While global coronavirus cases are declining, there are still countries that are dealing with a spread, including China, which means that Israel still needs to remain cautious.