90% of those over 50 fully inoculated

New COVID-19 cases drop to lowest weekly level since last June

With economy largely open and most Israelis vaccinated, positive test rate falls to 1%; serious infections hit a three-month low

Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 8, 2021. (Flash90)
Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 8, 2021. (Flash90)

The number of weekly new coronavirus infections dipped to the lowest level in Israel since June 2020, as serious cases hit a three-month low according to data released Friday.

According to the Health Ministry, only 2,479 new cases were discovered in the past week, compared to 5,011 the week prior, marking the lowest weekly tally in ten months.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Israel in serious condition dropped to 368 as of Friday, the lowest rate since December 2020. The number has been on a steady decline for several weeks, after climbing to an all-time high of 1,201 in mid-January.

The basic reproduction number, the daily share of positive coronavirus test results, and the number of active cases have all been on a several-week downward trend.

The number of active cases further fell to 6,581. Thursday’s results, which came from 35,768 tests, represented a positive infection rate of just 1 percent — amounting to 331 new cases.

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

The virus’s basic reproduction number was at 0.61. Any figure under 1 means the outbreak is abating. The figure represents the situation as of 10 days ago due to the incubation period.

With no deaths reported overnight, the toll stood at 6,220 on Friday morning.

The pandemic has continued to ebb following Israel’s successful vaccination campaign, which has seen a majority of its citizens get the shots.

Israel has so far vaccinated over 4.8 million people — or over 51.67% of its population — with two coronavirus vaccine shots. About 56.49% of Israelis, more than 5.2 million, have received at least one vaccine shot.

When it comes to vulnerable populations, these numbers are much higher. Over 90% of all Israeli residents over 50 are fully inoculated with two vaccine shots or had recovered from the virus.

Israelis enjoy the Wolfson Park, outside of Tel Aviv, during the Jewish holiday of Passover, March 31, 2021. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Israel started to emerge from its third national lockdown in February, with the economy now largely open. Restaurants and cultural venues have once again opened to the public — under certain restrictions — and travel inside the country is mostly free of coronavirus limitations, especially for the vaccinated.

Israel is almost exclusively using the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine and is inoculating all over the age of 16. The Health Ministry on Wednesday said the country would begin to inoculate adolescents aged 12-15 when US and European regulators approve the move. Recent results in a study on the vaccine’s effects on 12-15-year-olds have shown it to be highly safe and effective.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has expressed optimism that the shots will be approved for children younger than 12 in the fall of 2021. The company has already begun vaccine trials on young children.

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