Israel’s Virus Rate Drops to Lowest in a Month

Health care doctors and medics take test samples of Yerushalayim residents to check if they have been infected with the coronavirus, using the Sofia 2 Fluorescent Immunoassay Analyzer at a Clalilt Briut health center in Sheikh Jarrah, on Thursday. The analyzer delivers results in about 15 minutes. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Health Ministry data released on Friday showed Israel as its lowest test positivity rate in a month, with 8% of tests the previous day coming back with coronavirus positive diagnoses.

Positivity rates had hovered at around 12%-13% for much of recent weeks, at one point reaching a high of 15%.

The numbers appeared to strengthen a trend in recent days of a slowdown in infections, three weeks after the inception of new national lockdown measures. The positivity rate is seen as a key metric for measuring the spread of the virus, given uneven day-to-day total testing numbers.

Thursday saw 3,692 new cases diagnosed, with 48,804 tests carried out. The country’s total case count stood at 286,393, of which 59,347 were active. Seriously ill patients stood at 852, of whom 241 were on ventilators.

Officials have said the recent numbers are cause for cautious optimism but maintain that the lockdown will remain in place until at least mid-October out of fears the trend may reverse.

The current lockdown, Israel’s second since the pandemic started, began on September 18, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, and was tightened a week later. It is currently set to end on October 14.