Positive COVID-19 test results at lowest rate in 4 months

Health Ministry figures show just 0.88% of swabs on Monday found coronavirus carriers; number of seriously ill patients down to level last seen in August

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

People receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a health clinic, in Jerusalem, on October 7, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
People receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a health clinic, in Jerusalem, on October 7, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The rate of positive test results identifying coronavirus infection on Monday was the lowest in four months, according to Health Ministry figures.

It was the latest indication that a wave of COVID-19 infections, the fourth the country has experienced since the start of the pandemic last year, was continuing to ebb.

Of the 98,602 tests carried out Monday, just 0.88 percent showed infection. The last time the percentage was so low was on June 29. In total, 866 people were diagnosed with COVID-19, the ministry said.

Figures released Tuesday morning showed there were 11,439 active patients in the country, of which 249 have serious symptoms, the lowest number since August 4. The number of seriously ill patients is taken as a key indicator of the gravity of virus waves as those are the patients requiring hospital care, drawing on medical resources.

The virus reproduction number, which indicates how many people each infected person passes the virus on to, has remained below 1 for over month, according to ministry data. A figure of less than 1 shows the virus spread is diminishing; values above 1 indicate it is growing.

The death toll was 8,062 since the start of the pandemic early last year.

In addition to applying some restrictions on public life and venue attendance, the government made vaccination a central plank in its strategy to curb the fourth wave, which began in July.

Israel, in August, became the first country to offer a third vaccine shot to its general population as a booster to the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech inoculations it is using.

So far, 6,222,551 people have at least the first vaccine dose, of whom 5,718,253 have had both shots, and 3,915,254 the booster as well.

While only those aged 12 or above are eligible for vaccination, the country is poised to begin giving shots to young children as soon as they are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Approval for children aged 5-11 is expected to come within weeks.

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