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Number of seriously ill COVID patients drops to 499, lowest figure in 3 months

Health Ministry reports over 4.6 million people fully inoculated and a 1.6% positive infection rate, signaling continued drop in infections

Hospital staff transport a new patient to the coronavirus ward of the Ziv medical center in the northern Israeli city of Safed, January 7, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Hospital staff transport a new patient to the coronavirus ward of the Ziv medical center in the northern Israeli city of Safed, January 7, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients in Israel dipped below 500 on Tuesday, the lowest it’s been since December 21, Health Ministry data showed.

The figure stood at 499, with 204 patients on ventilators.

On Monday, the ministry reported 529 people in serious condition from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, including 211 on ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic 829,288 people in Israel have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, with 14,679 active patients as of Tuesday morning.

On Monday, 12 people died, bringing the death toll to 6,114. That same day, 942 new COVID-19 cases were reported by Health Ministry.

Israelis receive a COVID-19 vaccine, at Clalit vaccination center in Jerusalem, on March 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The positive test rate reported Monday was 1.6%, similar to the 1.5% contagion rate reported Sunday — which was the lowest recorded since November.

The virus’s basic reproduction number, representing the average number of people each virus carrier infects, was given as 0.6. Any figure under 1 means the outbreak is abating. The figure represents the situation as of 10 days ago due to the incubation period.

As of Tuesday, election day, over 4.6 million people have been fully immunized.

A COVID-19 patient votes for parliamentary election inside an intensive care ward for coronavirus patients at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, March. 23, 2021.(Oded Balilty/AP)

In preparation for the election, Israel made changes to its voting arrangements so that citizens can vote safely, including those infected with the virus. In medical facilities around the country, ballot boxes will be placed in virus wards, with election officials donning hazmat suits.

There are 38 polling stations in COVID-19 wards. In some facilities, mobile polling stations will travel between wards.

Election authorities have also set up 409 polling stations for those sick at home and 342 for those quarantined. They stipulated that people should vote at stations for the quarantined if they feel unwell, even if they aren’t officially in isolation.

Some of the special stations are drive-thru venues, where people won’t need to leave their cars. The special stations are expected to operate smoothly, as there are only about 40,000 people in quarantine; when election planning was taking place, the number was expected to be around double that.

A worker of the Central Election Committee wearing protective gear during a demonstration of special polling station ahead of the upcoming elections, at the central elections committee warehouse in Modiin, on February 23, 2021. (Flash90)

At regular polling stations, people will be asked to observe social distancing in lines. The number of people registered at each ballot box has been lowered from the regular 800 to 600 in order to reduce crowding.

Recent infection figures represent a dramatic improvement over the past two months, credited chiefly to a successful vaccination campaign. The success comes despite more infectious virus variants proliferating and the gradual lifting of restrictions.

Ministry figures showed that so far 5,189,210 people, or 55.8% of the population, have received at least the first of two shots; of those, 4,601,075 have also had the second dose, amounting to 49.48% of the population.

Authorities are hoping to vaccinate the entire over-16 population by the end of April.

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