Israel’s confirmed coronavirus cases reached 15,443 on Sunday night, the Health Ministry said, with 145 new infections recorded over the previous 24 hours — the lowest daily tally since March 20 — raising hopes that the outbreak is abating.
The country’s death toll was 201, one higher than the morning’s count.
There were no immediate details about the latest fatality.
Israel has registered 23 deaths per million citizens, according to the Worldometer tally on Sunday evening, which places it at around 40th in the world, slightly better than the world average of some 26 deaths per million.
The Health Ministry said 133 people were in serious condition, 99 of whom were on ventilators, and 82 people were moderately ill. An 11-year-old girl is among those in serious condition from the virus.
There have now been 6,731 people in Israel who recovered from the coronavirus, according to the announcement, which came a day after the World Health Organization said it could not guarantee that people cannot be reinfected after recovery.
The updated count came as Israel eased its restrictions on commercial activity.
Most stores, hairdressers and beauty salons were allowed to resume operations from midnight Saturday, if hygiene regulations related to the virus were adhered to.
In addition, restaurants and food shops were allowed to sell products for takeaway, not just home deliveries, as long as a physical barrier is placed between the cashier and the customers.
However, hundreds of large businesses remained closed, despite approval to reopen, in protest against the government, and as they demand compensation for the recent closures and ongoing restrictions.
A day earlier, the Health Ministry had defined new parameters on which to base its decisions regarding the easing or tightening of restrictions on the public and the economy, amid widespread criticism of a confused decision-making process.
According to Hebrew media reports, any of the following conditions will likely result in increased restrictions, while remaining below these thresholds will promise continued relief:
- Over 300 new sick people per day (numbers have hovered between 200 and 300 in recent days, though they did pass 500 on Wednesday, possibly due to a backlog of tests);
- Over 300 seriously ill patients (currently 130 are in serious condition);
- A doubling of the national number of sick every 10 days or less (currently cases are doubling around every 20 days).
The Health Ministry previously proposed a set of criteria for declaring individual areas “restricted zones,” due to a high number of coronavirus cases there.
Several mainly ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Beit Shemesh and Netivot, where there has been a spike in coronavirus infections in recent days, went into lockdown at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning. Meanwhile, police on Saturday took down checkpoints at the entrances to the Arab towns of Deir al-Asad and Bi’ina in northern Israel that were put on lockdown due to an outbreak there.
As of Friday, Deir al-Asad, with a rate of 1,142 cases per 100,000 people, had the highest infection rate of any community in Israel with over 5,000 residents. Bi’ina, with 22 cases out of a population of 8,355, had the 11th highest infection rate in the country — 251 per 100,000 people. The majority of towns above Bi’ina on the list were not declared restricted areas.