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Israeli hospital reports 65% drop in serious asthma cases due to mask-wearing

Sheba Medical Center credits widespread use of face coverings outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic — a health mandate that was dropped Sunday

Israelis wearing face masks walk in downtown Jerusalem on January 21,  2021, during the third national coronavirus lockdown. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israelis wearing face masks walk in downtown Jerusalem on January 21, 2021, during the third national coronavirus lockdown. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A study conducted by Sheba Medical Center found that the past year saw a 65 percent drop in serious asthma cases that required hospitalization.

The drop was credited to widespread mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, which also helped decrease the spread of viruses such as the flu in the past year.

By wearing masks, people are also less likely to suffer from seasonal allergies, as face coverings prevent pollen from flowers, trees, and grass coming into contact with the nose and mouth.

The report follows Israel’s decision to drop the requirement to wear masks outdoors this week, starting on Sunday.

Jerusalemites wearing face masks walk in Jerusalem on February 04, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Although the nationwide mandate on mask-wearing outdoors was officially lifted, masks must still be worn in public spaces indoors, and the Health Ministry also recommends they continue to be worn outdoors in large gatherings.

After suffering a severe third wave of the pandemic, Israel’s situation has rapidly improved in recent months as it has carried out the world’s fastest per capita vaccination drive. Over half of the population is fully inoculated against COVID-19, and the results have been evident, with the number of daily new cases and serious cases dropping to levels not seen in long months.

As the caseload has dropped, Israel has gradually rolled back coronavirus restrictions by opening businesses, event venues and other activities. Coronavirus czar Nachman Asch has said the entire economy will be able to fully reopen next month if there is no new rise in contagion.

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