The Health Ministry on Thursday morning night raised the national death toll from the coronavirus to 219, with four more fatalities since the previous evening, as data showed a sustained slowdown of daily infection rates.
On Wednesday, Israel also saw its number of recovered patients surpass the number of active cases for the first time. On Thursday morning, the gap grew, with the number of recovered patients rising to 8,412 — an increase of 483 over the previous 24 hours — of the 15,870 cases confirmed in the country.
In total, 88 new infections were recorded in the past 24 hours, the fourth consecutive day with fewer than 200 new cases. The country was put into lockdown on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, which was Independence Day, although medical care was exempted from those regulations. It was unclear if this affected testing rates.
There were 117 patients in serious condition, 85 of them on ventilators. Another 79 were in moderate condition, while the vast majority were displaying mild symptoms or none at all.
There were no immediate details identifying the latest fatalities.
In recent days, Israel’s infection rate has appeared to fall off significantly, with only dozens of new cases being reported every 12 hours, and the government has announced steps to ease restrictions on businesses and travel.
The lower number of cases has coincided with a drop-off in testing, though the ministry says it has the capacity to run 15,000 samples a day but not enough suspected cases to test.
Israel on Thursday returned to some semblance of normalcy, with much of the country opening up following two days of ramped up restrictions in place for the Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays.
Starting Thursday at 8 a.m., the 500-meter limitation on the distance from home in which Israelis can exercise was lifted, with no further restrictions on physical activity. However, group exercise is still banned.
Most stores are allowed to open, though leisure venues will continue to remain closed, as will all shops in malls except for supermarkets and pharmacies. Eateries are allowed to open for takeaway and deliveries, though not for sitting in.
Beginning Sunday, some students are set to return to school, though final approval depends on the findings of research on infection rates among children that will be presented to government ministers and a vote by ministers on Friday.
Social distancing regulations and a requirement to cover mouth and nose with a mask remain in place.