Israel counted the lowest number of serious COVID cases since mid-August on Sunday, as coronavirus figures continue to drop among the vaccinated population.
There are currently 588 patients in serious condition, 254 of which are in critical condition and 205 are on ventilators. The vast majority – about 430 of these patients – have not received the COVID vaccine. The last time there were so few patients in serious condition was on August 17.
As of last week, about 15 percent of Israel's population is not vaccinated. Over the past month, though, about 150,000 people got their first doses.
On Saturday, 1,709 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus, over 1,000 of whom were not vaccinated. Just 2.76 percent of tests came back positive. Nine people died of COVID; of those, six were unvaccinated.
The country's R number, or the number of people each coronavirus carrier infects, remains low. It currently stands at 0.74, and has remained below 1 since September, a sign that the pandemic is contracting.
On Sunday, new Green Pass rules went into effect, which subject people who have not received their third dose and got their second dose over six months ago to the same restrictions as people who have not been vaccinated at all. As such, nearly 22,000 people received their booster shots on Saturday, a particularly high number for the Sabbath – last Saturday saw about 6,000 third dose appointments.
The coronavirus cabinet is also set to meet for the first time in a month on Sunday, and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is expected not to ask for tighter restrictions – despite recommendations by others in the ministry to limit large gatherings and events.
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The planned meeting comes amid a public spat between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Ministry officials. The prime minister criticized Health Ministry experts during his trip to New York to address the UN General Assembly, including in the speech itself. On Thursday, Bennett and Horowitz met with the country's top health officials to alleviate tensions.
A statement issued by Bennett's office on Saturday said the prime minister welcomed the decrease in the number of seriously ill patients and the rise in vaccinations. However, the statement said, Israel remains at a critical stage of the pandemic and citizens must not become complacent.