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Serious COVID cases dip below 200 for first time in over 3 months

Official figures show pandemic further receding in wake of Omicron-fueled outbreak that pushed morbidity to record levels

A Magen David worker takes a COVID-19 rapid antigen test from Israelis, at a Magen David Adom drive through complex in Jerusalem, on March 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
A Magen David worker takes a COVID-19 rapid antigen test from Israelis, at a Magen David Adom drive through complex in Jerusalem, on March 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in serious condition dipped below 200 on Friday for the first time in over three months, in the latest sign of the pandemic’s retreat in Israel.

According to official figures, there were 196 serious cases as of Friday morning, including 74 people on ventilators. In total, 581 people infected with COVID-19 were hospitalized, 228 of whom had light symptoms.

The last time there were fewer than 200 serious patients was on January 9, as the Omicron variant sent morbidity surging to record levels.

The Health Ministry said there were 40,428 active cases, including 4,704 confirmed on Thursday. Since the pandemic began, over 4 million infections have been verified in the country.

The death toll stood at 10,612, with 18 fatalities recorded over the past week.

Data from the Health Ministry also showed the positive test rate further dropping to 8.4 percent on Thursday, while the transmission rate stood at 0.73. The figure measures how many people each coronavirus carrier infects on average, with any reading below 1 meaning the spread of COVID is slowing.

Earlier this month, the so-called R number fell back below 1 after a two-week period in which rising morbidity figures fueled concerns of another major outbreak.

With official statistics showing the pandemic receding, Nachman Ash, the director-general of the Health Ministry, said in March that remaining restrictions — such as the widely flouted indoor mask mandate — could soon be scrapped, though another top health official, Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the ministry, signaled opposition to ending the measures.

The government this year did not put in place any special restrictions for Passover, which begins Friday evening, after imposing curbs during the Jewish holiday the previous two years.

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