There are 4,695 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel, the Health Ministry said on Monday night, an increase of 348 since Monday.
The Ministry said 79 people are in serious condition, 66 of whom are hooked up to ventilators. Another 90 are in moderate condition, while the rest have mild symptoms.
Sixteen people in Israel have died from the virus; 161 have recovered.
Coronavirus tests for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, his family, and close advisers have come back negative, a spokesperson for his office said.
However, Netanyahu will remain in self-quarantine at his official residence in Yerushalayim, after one of his aides tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, there are indications that the spread of the virus is slowing.
As of last Wednesday, coronavirus cases had jumped by 121% over the previous three days. This period of rapid growth was preceded by a six-day period that saw a 259% rise. It was this upward trajectory that prompted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to warn in a speech last week that if the numbers did not show “immediate improvement” a full lockdown of the country would be unavoidable.
But now it appears that there has been significant improvement.
At the rate infection was proceeding, experts were projecting 7,000 to 8,000 cases by Monday, but instead there are less than 5,000.
“It is reason for cautious optimism,” Cyrille Cohen, head of the immunotherapy laboratory at Bar-Ilan University, told The Times of Israel.
“It’s most likely due to confinement and the measures that were taken,” Cohen said. “From the moment you cut off social connections, you expect to see a slowing of cases.”
And the slowdown has come even as the number of tests has risen, to about 5,000 daily, which might have been expected to reveal more cases that had previously gone undetected.
”This is a good sign, and I assume it’s related to the measures that have been implemented,” public health expert Manfred Green concurred. “If this continues, it means we’re actually being successful.”
Furthermore, Cohen noted that the latest figures don’t yet reflect the more stringent distancing measures ordered by the government. “You have to take into account that the incubation period for coronavirus is 7 to 14 days, which means the impact of the more drastic measures won’t yet be seen,” he said.
Nevertheless, a cautious pessimism reigns in the upper echelons of the Health Ministry, where Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov warned on Monday that there might ultimately be thousands of fatalities.