COVID in Israel: Key Metrics Show Virus on Retreat as Millions Back to School

Serious COVID cases hit a five-week low, the positive test rate is at an almost two-month nadir, and Israel's R number – the number of people each coronavirus carrier infects – has reached its lowest figure since mid-May

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First-graders on their first day of school in Jerusalem, earlier this month.
First-graders on their first day of school in Jerusalem, earlier this month. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

As millions of Israeli children returned to school on Thursday following the Jewish holidays, the country's COVID numbers continued to drop.

Wednesday saw a major leap in people receiving their third dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Over 58,000 people received the booster shot, the highest number in weeks. The rush to vaccinate comes ahead of October 3, when Israelis who have not received a booster shot will see their Green Passes expire, if six months have elapsed since their second jab.

The R number – the number of people each coronavirus carrier infects – is on its fifth straight day of decline and has reached its lowest figure since mid-May. The number, which reflects the average from the previous 10 days, now stands at 0.72, showing that the pandemic is shrinking.

On Wednesday, 3.65 percent of coronavirus tests came back positive, the lowest rate in nearly two months, with 3,550 people were diagnosed with COVID.

Overall, serious cases have hit a five-week low. The number now stands at 637, with 266 in critical condition and 219 on ventilators. On Wednesday, of the 56 new patients in serious condition, 66 percent were unvaccinated – despite the unvaccinated accounting for only 15 percent of the Israeli population.

Seven people died of COVID on Wednesday, five of whom – 71 percent – were not vaccinated. Since the pandemic began, 7,734 people have died of the disease in Israel.

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