The number of coronavirus patients in Israel in serious condition dropped below 300 Thursday for the first time in over three months, according to figures released by the Health Ministry.
An evening update from the ministry showed a total of 298 people with the virus in Israeli hospitals in serious condition, down from highs of over 820 in the middle of October.
The ministry said there were 158 patients in critical condition, with 137 on ventilators, out of total of 7,922 active cases in the country.
Despite the falling rate of serious cases, the number of daily diagnoses continued its slight upward trend, with 522 new cases since midnight.
Out of over 26,000 virus test results returned Thursday, two percent were positive, slightly up from the 1.9% recorded out of over 36,000 test results on Wednesday.
Since the start of the outbreak earlier this year, 322,068 people in Israel have tested positive for the coronavirus and 2,706 have died.
Israel sharply brought down its daily coronavirus infection numbers from some 8,000 in mid-September to several hundred by late October with a nationwide lockdown, its second since the start of the pandemic. It has remained stubbornly above 500 cases a day, though, on most days with 30,000 tests or more.
The lockdown paralyzed much of public life and the economy and shuttered the entire education system. The government began removing some restrictions a few weeks ago, opening preschools and kindergartens, then grades 1-4, as well as permitting some street-front businesses to begin operations. The rest of the education system has continued with remote learning.
Ministers ended a meeting Thursday without decisions on further easing the national lockdown, including proposals to reopen schools for grades 5-6 and use evening curfews to prevent mass events.
Netanyahu, speaking at a meeting of the so-called coronavirus cabinet, a forum of ministers who lay down policy for dealing with the virus outbreak, said that no decision on lifting the lockdown or other issues would be made, and that a further meeting of the cabinet will be held on Sunday.
“We want to act slowly, there may be a third lockdown, but if [we] do have to do that we must do everything to keep it delayed as long as possible,” Netanyahu reportedly told ministers.