Edelstein Upbeat As Virus Declines

Israeli Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein began caving in to the wave of optimism over the encouraging coronavirus data on Thursday.

“With all caution, I am starting to believe that we are not going back,” Edelstein said during an event at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) with the heads of health care organizations.

“In the past, to get such data, we needed a strict lockdown. Now, everything is open and all the indices are falling. I am beginning to believe that the difficult times are behind us,” said Edelstein, who has opposed many of the reopening initiatives during the pandemic, warning that they would lead to return to lockdowns, which they sometimes did.

His comment comes almost two weeks after the country entered the third stage of its lockdown exit strategy, and the number of new cases, as well as seriously-ill patients, stand at their lowest since December.

Some 1,517 new cases were identified on Wednesday, similar to the figure of the previous 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry. As of Thursday night, 549 patients were in serious condition, 202 of those were on ventilators. Eleven people had succumbed to the virus on the previous day, and the death toll stood at 6,069.

In addition, the R rate, or reproduction rate, measuring how many people each virus carrier could infect, dropped to 0.68. When the R rate stands below 0.8, the pandemic is considered to be in decline.

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