Israel Sees Steady Decline in All Omicron Metrics

Serious COVID cases drop to 1,085 and R number falls to 0.91, potentially signaling that Israel's omicron wave is beginning to ebb

Staff at the pediatric coronavirus ward at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, last week.
Staff at the pediatric coronavirus ward at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, last week.Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

COVID figures released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday showed a decline in all metrics, suggesting that the omicron wave that infected 1.5 million people in January may be receding.

The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel was 60,329 on Tuesday, a drop of some 7,000 from a day earlier, according to official data. The number of serious cases dipped slightly to 1,085 on Wednesday, down from 1,133 a day earlier.

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The R number, representing the average number of people each carrier will go on to infect, declined from 0.92 to 0.91.

The death toll has risen to 8,926, with 122 new deaths logged – the vast majority of them being deaths that occurred earlier and were added retroactively.

On Tuesday, the coronavirus cabinet approved the Health Ministry's recommendation that the Green Pass program be scrapped for most places, except for "high-risk events" like weddings and parties, effectively removing barriers to entry for the unvaccinated at hotels, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters.

The cabinet also decided to cancel the requirement to present the results of a PCR lab test upon exiting the country. Arriving passengers, however, would still need to present a negative test. Following recommendations of the Health Ministry, the cabinet also moved to nix the expiration date on vaccination certificates for anyone who has received a third or fourth dose of the vaccine, meaning those passes will be valid indefinitely.

Those who are not fully vaccinated and employed in the education, health and welfare sectors would still be required to undergo tests twice a week.

But for people who have only had two doses, or who recovered from the virus but are not vaccinated, the pass would be valid for only four months from the date of the second dose or the recovery.

These decisions made by the COVID cabinet on Tuesday must be approved by the Knesset's Constitutional, Law and Justice Committee before they can be implemented.

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