Just 11% of those over 50 not vaccinated yet

COVID-19 pandemic ebbs in Israel with lowest positive rate in almost 2 months

In best figures since early January, just 6.2% of tests positive, only 858 current serious cases; one hospital says 9 of 10 new cases to arrive were unvaccinated

Shaare Zedek hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the coronavirus ward of the hospital in Jerusalem on February 3, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shaare Zedek hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the coronavirus ward of the hospital in Jerusalem on February 3, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s coronavirus infection rate continued to drop Friday, with just 6.2 percent of tests coming back positive Thursday, or some 3,000 cases, the lowest figures seen since the beginning of January. The R-value, the reproduction rate of the virus measuring the average number of people each positive person infects, dropped to 0.79.

Meanwhile, 40% of new serious cases are in the under 60 age groups, likely due to slower vaccine rollout among those under 60, according to the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center, operating under the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate in cooperation with the Health Ministry,

Currently, 89% of those over 50 are either vaccinated with at least the first Pfizer vaccine dose or recovered from the virus, the report said.

The Health Ministry has been attempting to encourage the younger population to get vaccinated by holding events for those who come to get their shot.

Israelis receive a COVID-19 vaccine injection and a free alcohol shot in an event organized by the Tel Aviv municipality to encourage people to get vaccinated, at a Bar in Tel Aviv, February 18, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“It is possible additional infection will be noted in the coming weeks,” the report warned, “especially during the Purim holiday next week.”

The Education Ministry Thursday approved for some educational institutions to hold events on the Jewish holiday amid the pandemic.

The number of active serious cases on Friday stood at 858, the lowest recorded number since the beginning of the year, after it climbed to an all-time high of 1,201 in mid-January.

Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center, one of the country’s largest hospitals, stated that nine out of 10 new cases that arrived for treatment Friday were unvaccinated. The one who was vaccinated is in light condition, while the remainder who were not inoculated were in serious and critical condition.

Medical staff in the coronavirus unit, at Ichilov hospital, Tel Aviv, May 4, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Ministry data showed Friday morning there were 48,018 active virus cases, including 3,011 infections diagnosed on Thursday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 743,814.

The death toll stood at 5,521 after an additional 35 patients died Thursday.

The Health Ministry stressed that vaccines are the most effective way to combat the ongoing pandemic.

Over four million Israelis, or some 46 percent of the country’s total population, have now received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, ministry data showed Friday. About 2.8 million Israelis have received both doses.

The Health Ministry on Thursday launched the long-awaited “Green Pass” certificate which will enable those vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus to take part in various reopened activities. Passes will be issued starting Sunday.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein during the announcement of the ‘Green Pass’ certification on February 18, 2021 (Health Ministry)

“The vaccinated and recovered will be able to enter gyms, events, hotels and synagogues that are registered under the Green Pass certificate from Sunday,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said. “This is how the first stage will look in the return to your almost normal lives.”

Israel further eased its coronavirus lockdown on Friday, with synagogues and other houses of worship being permitted to reopen with attendance limited to 10 people indoors and 20 outside, ahead of the Purim holiday next week.

Meanwhile, Ben Gurion Airport has been almost entirely shuttered since January 25. A joint statement from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Health Ministry said the country’s borders will remain closed until March 6, except for urgent reasons.

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