Just 209 New COVID Cases; Number of Serious Patients Falls to 276

Ichilov Medical team at the coronavirus unit, in the Ichilov hospital, Tel Aviv. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

A total of just 209 new cases of the coronavirus were diagnosed across Israel on Thursday, according to data released by the Health Ministry Friday morning.

Just 0.5% of tests conducted Thursday came back positive, holding at the same rate as Tuesday and Wednesday. That is the lowest level recorded since May 24, 2020, when the percentage of tests coming back positive hit 0.4%.

There are now just 4,414 known active cases of the virus in Israel, down from 4,888 on Wednesday. Of those 4,414 active cases, 429 are being treated in hospitals. That is down from 481  hospitalizations on Wednesday

Of those hospitalized, 276 patients are in serious condition. That is down from 281 seriously ill patients on Thursday and 302 on Wednesday, and marks the lowest number since November 30, 2020, when there were 272 patients in serious condition.

Infection coefficient held steady at 0.76 as of March 29th, the latest date for which information on the coefficient is available due to the 10-day delay between the date of actual infection and test results. That is down from 0.79 two days before, and remains far below the 1.0 R reproduction rate, which marks the level of spread needed for the virus to maintain a stable number of infections in a population.

The infection coefficient last topped 1.0 on February 24, when it hit 1.02, before falling sharply.

The total number of coronavirus-related fatalities now stands at 6,280, including five deaths Tuesday.

Thus far, 5,304,870 Israelis have received at least one dose of the vaccine, or 57.05% of the population, with 52.82% of, or 4,911,808 people having received two doses.

While Israel’s trailblazing vaccine campaign continues to gradually stamp out its virus outbreak, a top health official warned on Thursday that the warranted optimism should not give way to complacency as “the pandemic has not passed and is still very present.”

“We are in the midst of a continued fall in morbidity, a decline which has helped cases and hospitalizations to stabilize,” Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Chezy Levi said. “Hospitals have seen a large and welcomed dip in admissions: 451 hospitalizations, with less than 300 of them being in serious condition.”

“Among patients that are either in serious condition, ventilated, pregnant or in critical condition, about 80% are unvaccinated. Serious ailment and the need for assistance in breathing is more prevalent among those who have yet to receive the vaccine,” he added.

Levi’s comments came as Israel was mulling scrapping its outdoor mask mandate and moved to lift further restrictions from its education system, bringing it closer to pre-pandemic conditions.

Levi also added that the country’s health-care providers and other relevant health bodies were working to finalize a vaccine rollout for adolescents aged under 16 within the week and that public information campaign would also be necessary in the run-up to the opening of the vaccine rollout to calm down worried parents.