Israel is moving toward something resembling pre-pandemic life, opening indoor dining and sporting events to more of its people and allowing them to be outdoors without masks on, following a robust COVID vaccination plan and a current seven-day average of just 159 cases.
The nation lifted its outdoor mask mandate on April 18, now with 59% of its population completely vaccinated, according to the New York Times.
According to Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science, thanks to 85% of people 16 and older in Israel either vaccinated or possessing antibodies after contracting the disease and recovering, “Life is close to pre-COVID.”
Data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center shows that the seven-day case average has dropped from an early March plateau of close to 4,000 to its current low numbers. The data shows that remarkably, on April 17, no new COVID cases were reported in Israel, with just 164 and 171 new cases the following two days.
Israel has instituted a “green pass” system allowing those who are vaccinated or recovered the ability to “dine indoors in restaurants, stay in hotels, and attend large cultural, sports, and religious gatherings.”
The Jerusalem Post reports that at the peak of the pandemic in January, there were more than 70,000 active cases, including 1,200 considered to be in serious condition. But serious cases have now dropped to 193, the lowest that figure has been since July 2020.
Hospitalizations are also down from a pandemic peak of around 1,800 to the current count of 323. Most hospitals in the country, as a result, have shut down their coronavirus units.
Death rates are also dropping: While three people died from COVID-19 on April 19, that compares favorably to January, when 77 people died of COVID-19 within a 24-hour span. Throughout Israel’s pandemic battle, more than 6,300 have died.
Even with Israel’s diligence and successes, though, some health experts and citizens are still concerned about a resurgence. The New York Times reported that several cases of a virus variant with a double mutation first detected in India, the B.1.617 variant, were identified in mid-April in Israel.
Israel’s top coronavirus expert, Nachman Ash, told the Ynet news site on April 18 that the variant could potentially affect those who are vaccinated and expressed concern about people abandoning mask-wearing indoors as the nation looks to contain that variant from further spread.