Coronavirus transmission rate dips below 1 as pandemic in retreat again

Daily cases fall below 10,000 and serious cases continue to decline

A coronavirus testing center in Jerusalem, on March 22, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
A coronavirus testing center in Jerusalem, on March 22, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

For the first time in two weeks, Israel’s coronavirus transmission rate dipped below 1 on Sunday, according to new Health Ministry figures, signaling that the pandemic was once again in retreat.

The R number, currently at 0.98, represents how many people each coronavirus carrier infects on average. It is used to gauge the spread of the virus: Any reading above 1 means it is accelerating, and any below 1 means it’s slowing.

During late January and February, the number had been below 1, but it rose in early March and reached a high of 1.43 before beginning to dip again more recently.

The ministry also reported that of the 32,209 people who were tested for the virus on Saturday, 22.78 percent received a positive result — 7,338 cases. Daily cases have also been on the decline in recent days.

There were 58,749 active infections, including 277 hospital patients in serious condition, of whom 102 were on ventilators. Both severe and ventilated cases have continued to decline despite the recent uptick in infections.

The death toll stood at 10,518.

Health officials have in part attributed the recent rise in cases to the BA.2 variant, a subvariant of Omicron that is believed to be more infectious than the original.

Health Ministry General Manager Professor Nachman Ash attends a press conference on banning conversion therapy, in Tel Aviv, on February 14, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Last week, Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said that no new COVID-19 restrictions are planned, and Israel could soon scrap the measures it still has in place.

Asked in an interview with the Ynet news site whether officials were considering ending the face mask or quarantine requirements, the Health Ministry chief answered that Israel was “heading in that direction” though it was not quite there yet.

Ash also said that no special restrictions will be introduced for the Passover holiday in April, the first time in two years festivities will be held without COVID limitations.

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