‘Spread of COVID-19 halted’: 80% of Israel has had no new cases for days — TV

The Israeli cabinet is set to meet Sunday to discuss further easing coronavirus restrictions, including opening malls and markets, amid figures suggesting the country has largely managed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Eighty percent of Israeli towns and villages have reported no new COVID-19 cases for several days, with Tel Aviv among them, a TV report said Friday, and only four cities nationwide have had more than five new cases in the past few days: Jerusalem, Hura, Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh. (Jerusalem and Hura have been under a partial lockdown, as have two neighborhoods in Beit Shemesh.)

“The spread of the COVID-19 virus in Israel has been halted,” said Channel 12’s  medical correspondent.

As of Friday evening, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel stood at 16,101, an increase of 155 over the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said. Of that total, 9,156 Israelis have recovered from the virus.

The death toll was 225, with three deaths in the past 24 hours.

According to the ministry, 103 people infected with COVID-19 were in serious condition, 83 of whom are on ventilators. The number of patients on ventilators has steadily declined in recent weeks, from a high of 137 on April 16.

Amid the encouraging trends, ministers on Sunday are to consider opening public parks, malls and open-air markets and ending the restriction keeping the public within 100 meters from their homes if not for a permitted activity. The government is also set to allow swimming in the sea and open public swimming pools, TV reports said.

Channel 12 reported that both the Health Ministry and the Finance Ministry would present their plans for further opening up the economy, with the latter expected to push for almost all businesses to be allowed to open as long as they complied with safety guidelines.

The Finance Ministry is desperate to restart the economy which is at a near standstill. Jobless figures spiked to 1,093,000 by mid-April, bringing the unemployment rate to an unprecedented 26%, from below 4% pre-coronavirus.

Much would depend on the information coming in over the next few days that would help the government asses the impact of the first wave of easing following the Passover lockdown, but initial signs are positive, the reports said.