The number of serious COVID cases in Israel dropped to 99, according to new data from the Health Ministry released on Monday morning, marking the first time in months the figure has dipped below 100.
The last time the caseload of seriously ill COVID patients dropped below 100 was December 31.
Out of the 99 cases, 47 patients were reported to be on ventilators and four are connected to an ECMO machine. The drop in serious cases has continued despite Israel lifting its indoor mask mandate on April 24, leaving the requirement for face coverings in place only in hospitals and old age homes and aboard aircraft.
However, the virus’s spread has been increasing for the first time in two months, with average new weekly cases seeing a 2.2 percent increase as of Monday. Testing for COVID has also increased by 4.4% over the last week.
There were 15,467 known active infections as of Monday morning, out of the 4,109,685 verified cases in Israel since the start of the pandemic. The number of COVID-related deaths stood at 10,800 on Monday, with 10 fatalities recorded over the past week. The number of COVID-linked deaths reported over the past seven days marked a 63% drop from the week before.
Health Ministry statistics also showed that more than 6.7 million Israelis have received at least one vaccine dose and more than 6.1 million got both shots. Additionally, nearly 4.5 million people have been administered a booster shot, including 807,090 who received a fourth dose.
In further steps to loosen COVID-related restrictions, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is reportedly seeking to end the mask requirement for international flights, following a similar decision by the European Union.
The European Union said that it will no longer recommend medical masks be worn at airports and on planes starting Monday, though member states can still require them.
Scrapping in-board masking would lift one of the few remaining COVID restrictions still in place in Israel. But flights from Tel Aviv to certain destinations could still require face masks, depending on other international regulations.
Beginning May 20, passengers who land at Ben Gurion Airport will no longer be required to undergo a PCR test before exiting the airport, the Health Ministry announced last week.