JERUSALEM, Israel – The number of Israel’s daily coronavirus infections is slowly declining following the government’s decision to extend the nation’s third lockdown to Jan. 31.
The Health Ministry reported Friday that of the 81,000 people who were tested the day before, 8.9% were positive for the virus. That’s a slight drop from the 9% positivity rate on Wednesday and the 9.2% positivity rate on Tuesday.
Israel currently has more than 80,000 active cases and hundreds in critical condition.
Nachman Ash, tasked with leading the country through the pandemic, told Israeli media on Thursday that “the data is encouraging.”
“We’ve already seen for several days a curbing and even decline in morbidity,” Ash told Israel’s Channel 12 news.
“I very much hope the trend continues and we won’t have to extend the lockdown,” he said.
Ash also said the country’s reproduction rate – the number of people a sick person infects – has finally dipped below 1 for the first time in months, meaning the disease is no longer growing exponentially.
Meanwhile, Israel is leading the world with its vaccination campaign.
On Thursday, a record 223,560 doses of the vaccine were administered.
While most of the vaccines have been given to Israel’s older and vulnerable population, Ash told Army Radio that vaccines could potentially be open to all age groups next week.
“The next stage is opening it up to everyone; there is no longer any point in this age priority listing,” he said.
Israel’s high school students aged 16-18 will also be receiving the vaccine so they can take their matriculation exams.
More than 20% of Israel’s population of over 9 million have already received their first dose. The government is planning to issue “green passports” to those who have received the vaccine, allowing them to go to cultural venues and attend large gatherings.
Since the outbreak began, Israel has reported more than 580,000 cases and over 4,200 deaths.
Why does Judaism matter and how is it connected to Christianity? Learn more here.