The number of Israelis hospitalized in serious condition due to COVID-19 dropped below 600 for the first time since August 17 Friday, according to figures from the Health Ministry.
The new number of serious cases stood at 586. Of those patients, 422 were unvaccinated, 108 received only two of the three vaccine doses, and 37 patients had received all three shots.
Among the seriously ill who are over the age of 60, 85% are not vaccinated at all.
Of the nearly 120,000 samples tested on Thursday, 3.81% (or 4,353) came back positive. The number of total active cases stood at 45,412, with the death toll since the start of the pandemic rising by five since the morning to 7,766.
The number of Israelis who have received all three doses of the vaccine climbed to 3,439,536, compared to 5,643,997 who have received two doses and 6,123,729 who have received just one shot.
Earlier Friday, Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said Israel appeared to be nearing the end of the fourth COVID-19 virus wave that began in late June.
“I believe we’re on the road to a real drop [in infection], but we’ll see it in the next few days,” Ash told Radio 103FM. “I believe the fourth wave is coming to an end.”
However, he noted that with the reopening of schools after a break for the Jewish holidays, infection rates could rise again. “It’s hard to predict, and it’s definitely one of our concerns for the coming weeks,” he said.
Also on Friday, government figures placed the basic reproduction rate of the virus, which measures transmission, at 0.72. The figure measures how many people, on average, every virus-positive person infects. Any number over 1 indicates infections are rising, while a figure below that level signals that an outbreak is abating.
On Sunday, nearly two million Israelis will lose their Green Pass, most of them due to not being vaccinated with a COVID-19 booster shot. At the same time, police will step up enforcement of the proof of vaccine document at gatherings in cities with high rates of infection.
Israel — the first country to officially offer a third dose — began its COVID-19 booster campaign on August 1, initially rolling it out to those over the age of 60. It then gradually dropped the eligibility age, eventually expanding it to everyone aged 12 and up who received the second shot at least five months ago.
The pass is only valid from one week after receiving the last required dose, and for six months after. The document, held by those who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, enables access to many public places and events, including restaurants and museums.
On Thursday some 78,000 Israelis received a booster shot, the highest daily rate since early September.
A temporary Green Pass can also be obtained through a negative virus test, which must be paid for unless the individual is not eligible for vaccination.