Just 68 new virus cases confirmed in last day, showing sharp slowdown

Health Ministry puts tally at 15,466, with one new fatality bringing death toll to 202; the last time there were under 100 infections in 24 hours was more than a month ago

People on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem on April 26, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
People on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem on April 26, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Health Ministry on Monday morning reported just 23 new coronavirus cases overnight and 68 infections over the previous 24 hours, continuing a significant downward trend in the spread of the outbreak in Israel.

The last time fewer than 100 new cases were confirmed in a day was on March 20, when the outbreak was still in its initial stages.

The total tally of cases is now 15,466, with the death toll at 202, one higher than Sunday night’s count.

Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak said the fatality was an 89-year-old woman who succumbed during the night. It said she had preexisting medical problems.

The Health Ministry said 129 people were in serious condition, 96 of whom were on ventilators, and 79 people were moderately ill. An 11-year-old girl is among those in serious condition from the virus.

There are now 6,796 people in Israel who have recovered from the coronavirus, according to the announcement. The World Health Organization has said it can’t guarantee that people cannot be reinfected after recovery.

Israel has registered 23 deaths per million citizens, according to the Worldometer tally on Sunday evening, which places it at around 50th in the world, slightly better than the world average of some 26 deaths per million.

The updated count came as Israel eased its restrictions on commercial activity.

Most stores, hairdressers and beauty salons were allowed to resumed operations Sunday, if hygiene regulations related to the virus were adhered to.

People shop for food at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on April 24, 2020 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

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 on Sunday, despite approval to reopen, in protest against the government as they demanded compensation for the recent closures and ongoing restrictions. The government on Sunday night approved NIS 6 billion ($1.7 billion) to meet their demands.

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. 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.

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