New virus cases plummet to just 23 in past 24 hours, lowest in 6 weeks
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New virus cases plummet to just 23 in past 24 hours, lowest in 6 weeks

Health Ministry figures also show sharp drop in the percentage of coronavirus tests that came back positive to just 0.5%; 3 more die as toll climbs to 232

Israelis wearing face masks for fear of coronavirus do their shopping in Jerusalem City center after the government eased some lockdown measures that it had imposed in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, on May 03, 2020.
(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israelis wearing face masks for fear of coronavirus do their shopping in Jerusalem City center after the government eased some lockdown measures that it had imposed in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, on May 03, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Just 23 new cases of the coronavirus were diagnosed in the previous 24 hours according to Health Ministry figures released Sunday evening, the lowest daily rise in the last six weeks, continuing a trend indicating the outbreak in Israel is largely under control.

The number of patients on ventilators also continues to drop and was at 76. The sharp decrease has allowed Israel to begin opening up and considering ending a raft of restrictions.

However, three more people died during the same period bringing the death toll to 232.

There have been a total of 16,208 cases of coronavirus in Israel, of whom 9,749 have recovered. Among the 6,227 still sick with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, 94 have serious symptoms and 69 have moderate symptoms, the ministry update showed.

Over the past day 188 people recovered from the disease.

Ministry figures also showed a fall in the percentage of tests for the virus that come back positive. Of the 5,815 tests carried out in the past 24 hours, just 0.5% were positive, whereas for the past week the percentage has been above 1% almost every day, peaking at 1.6% on April 28.

The most infected city is still Jerusalem, with 3,571 patients, followed by the predominantly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak with 2,856.

Tel Aviv is the third most infected city with 536 cases.

Last Wednesday, the number of Israelis who have recovered from COVID-19 surpassed those who are sick for the first time since the start of the pandemic, a trend that continues.

Israelis wearing face masks for fear of coronavirus do their shopping in Jerusalem City center after the government eased some lockdown measures on May 03, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

In recent days, Israel’s infection rate has dropped off significantly, with the number of new cases over 24-hour periods consistently falling below 200 since last Sunday evening.

The government has recently approved rollbacks of some restrictions imposed as part of a lockdown to curb the outbreak, opening many stores and allowing people to gather for prayer or venture from home for exercise. On Sunday elementary schools reopened in most places around the country for grades 1-3.

The Health Ministry considers the coming week to be crucial for determining a time frame for further reopening the economy. Officials will gauge the effects of recent reopening measures to make their decisions going forward.

The ministry is reportedly set to recommend an immediate end to the ban on visits to second-degree relatives, including grandparents, according to a television report on Sunday, as the government considered various plans to further relax the pandemic restrictions.

The ministry will reportedly say gatherings of up to ten people should be permitted, with the new directives possibly coming into effect as early as this week, Channel 12 reported.

In addition, malls and markets will reportedly reopen in two weeks, on May 17, and restaurants will be able to allow diners to eat on-site from June 15, the report said.

In all social situations, distancing of two meters must be maintained and masks must be worn, the report said.

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