The Covid death toll remained unchanged in Israel Thursday, with the country, which is carrying out the world’s largest vaccination drive on a per capita basis, seeing no new daily fatalities for the first time since June 2020.
The number of people who succumbed to the virus remained at 6,346 on Thursday – the same as a day before, fresh figures from the Israeli Health Ministry showed. It marks the first time Israel reported no daily coronavirus-related deaths in more than ten months.
Only 129 new cases of the disease were recorded, with the positive test rate falling to 0.4%. Israel has so far seen a total of 837,870 confirmed Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
There were just under 1,900 active infections, with 160 patients in serious condition, including 97 on ventilators, the ministry said on Friday.
Death and infection rates have been dropping in Israel since the peak of the pandemic in late January. The decline comes amid a massive vaccination drive which has already seen more than 5 million people, or almost 58% percent of the population, getting both shots of the Pfizer-BioNtech jab.
The country also went through a strict lockdown, which provoked violent protests, including among the Orthodox Jewish community. Harsh travel restrictions introduced by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prevented many Israelis from returning home, but were later cancelled after the High Court court declared the measure unconstitutional.
Israel has been gradually removing coronavirus curbs in recent weeks, reopening schools and businesses, and easing travel guidelines. At the weekend, citizens were allowed to go outside without facemasks.
But the country’s medical authorities remained concerned about the so-called Indian variant of Covid-19, a ‘double mutant’ strain of the virus, which recently caused a spike in cases in India. Seven people in Israel have already tested positive for the new variant. Аll of them were unvaccinated travelers who returned to the country.
“We don’t feel comfortable with it,” Chezy Levy, the Health Ministry’s director-general, said on Thursday, adding that the mutations could make the Indian variant more resistant to vaccines and increase its transmissibility.
Earlier this week, Israel issued a travel warning to India, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey – all countries where Covid-19 infections have been on the rise – in order to prevent new coronavirus strains from getting in.
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