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No deaths overnight as coronavirus infection rates maintain downward trend

Health Ministry records 46 new cases in 24 hours; 5,549 Israelis currently ill, while 10,527 have recovered

Medical workers wearing protective clothing as they stand outside the coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem,  May 5, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Medical workers wearing protective clothing as they stand outside the coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, May 5, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Just 46 new cases of coronavirus infection were confirmed in Israel in the past 24 hours, while the number of active cases continued to decline, according to Health Ministry figures published Wednesday morning.

The figure was a slight increase on the previous 24-hour period, which saw 43 new cases.

The death toll remained at 238, with no reported deaths overnight.

The accumulated number of cases since the outbreak began now stands at 16,314, the ministry said, while the number of active cases has fallen to 5,549.

Medical staff in the coronavirus unit, at Ichilov hospital, Tel Aviv, May 4, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Ninety of those diagnosed with the virus are in serious condition, with 70 of those cases on respiratory ventilation. There are fifty-five people in moderate condition with COVID-19.

The number of people who have recovered from the virus has now reached 10,527.

In recent days, Israel’s infection rate has dropped off significantly, with the number of new cases over 24-hour periods consistently falling below 100. Last Wednesday, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the number of Israelis to have recovered from COVID-19 surpassed the number of actively sick.

With the number of new infections dropping, the government has increasingly rolled back restrictions meant to curb the outbreak, and on Monday canceled the 100-meter limit on Israelis traveling from their homes for activities deemed non-essential.

Israelis enjoy the beach promenade in Tel Aviv, as coronavirus restrictions on the public have been slightly lifted. May 1, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

It also ended restrictions preventing people from visiting with family and approved the reopening of malls and outdoor markets on Thursday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that all lockdown restrictions could be removed by the middle of June.

He warned, though, that Israel could have to reassess enforcing social distancing measures if there are more than 100 new coronavirus cases a day, a doubling of cases within 10 days, or over 250 people with serious symptoms in hospitals.

A medical team member wearing protective gear takes a swab from a woman to test for the coronavirus at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on April 30, 2020 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing to launch a coordinated, nationwide testing campaign to determine the population’s readiness for a possible second wave of COVID-19, the government’s top health official announced.

In an interview with The New York Times published on Tuesday, Health Ministry director general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said that 100,000 serological tests, obtained from firms in the United States and Italy for almost $40 million, were being prepared for use by health clinics across the country in the coming weeks.

Israel’s National Emergency Authority fears a second wave of coronavirus infections and is calling on the government to use the relative lull in cases to prepare hospitals for a substantial increase in respiratory ventilation and treatment capacities.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the authority has prepared a model that forecasts a second wave of infections at around the time of the Jewish new year, which this year falls in mid-September.

According to the forecast, the number of cases could be at least twice as bad, reaching tens of thousands, with thousands hospitalized and deaths estimated between several hundred and the low thousands.

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