For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country earlier this year, the number of people in Israel who have recovered from the virus surpassed the number of those who are still sick, according to Health Ministry figures published Wednesday.
There have been a total of 15,782 confirmed carriers of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, of whom 7,929 have recovered. Of the 7,641 still sick, 120 have serious symptoms, 91 of them on ventilators, and 85 are in moderate condition.
The coronavirus has so far claimed 212 lives, with two people dying overnight, the Health Ministry said.
Since its Tuesday morning update, another 193 cases were confirmed, the ministry said.
One of the new fatalities was identified by Hebrew-language media as Rabbi Yaakov Koldetsky, 70, from Bnei Brak, an associate of ultra-Orthodox spiritual leader Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and a former Torah study partner of the late spiritual leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv.
He had been hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv a month ago, after being diagnosed with COVID-19 following his return from the United States. His situation deteriorated several weeks ago, and he died Tuesday night.
One of the seriously ill patients is a 16-year-old boy hospitalized in serious condition at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Hebrew-language reports said.
The teenager is suffering from organ failure and heart complications, the Ynet news site said. According to the Kan public broadcaster, two tests for the virus came back negative and third was positive. Ynet said the third coronavirus test had come back “borderline positive,” signaling that the diagnosis remains unclear.
Meanwhile, the condition of an eleven-year-old girl who had been in serious condition after suffering heart complications from the pathogen improved significantly. She had recovered from the virus but had still been sedated and on a ventilator. The Rambam Medical Center in Haifa said Wednesday that she regained consciousness and was now breathing on her own.
The hospital said the girl, a resident of Elad in central Israel, would be kept for observation in the coming days.
Due the virus outbreak a national curfew was imposed over the period of Israel’s 72nd Independence Day, from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday evening, to prevent large gatherings as Israelis celebrate the founding of the state. Official events have been dedicated in honor of medical staff working to combat the virus.
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 commerce and movement.
On Tuesday the Health Ministry said Israel now has the lab capacity to test up to 15,000 people for COVID-19 daily but demand has gone down as fewer suspected cases show up to have swabs taken.
Israel has been struggling, along with many other countries, to raise the number of tests it performs per day, and in recent days that number has dropped below 10,000, coinciding with a marked decrease in the number of confirmed cases reported since the start of the week.
Due to a downturn in coronavirus test referrals and “a decrease in the number of people with coronavirus symptoms who want to be tested,” the ministry said that the number of people being tested has gone down, with only 9,031 tests performed on Saturday, of which 160 were found to be COVID-19 positive.
On Sunday, 8,393 tests were performed and 88 people were found to be positive. On Monday, 9,546 tests were performed and 110 people were found positive.
The ministry announced that it plans to launch random testing initiatives in areas with high infection rates to make up for the lack of sick patients seeking tests. It said a recently signed deal with the China-based Beijing Genomics Institute will soon allow Israel to conduct up to 20,000 daily tests.