Israel currently has less than 1,000 active cases of COVID-19 for the first time time since the pandemic broke out last March, the Health Ministry reported Sunday.
The ministry said there were just 17 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed on the previous day after some 11,000 tests, putting Israel's contagion rate at a little under 0.2%. The country also no longer has communities at all that are classed as infection hotspots.
The country's number of active patients has now decreased to 985 following the massive vaccination campaign that has seen the large majority of the adult population fully inoculated, primarily with the vaccine from Pfizer.
The Health Ministry data showed that 5,074,522 people have now received both doses of the vaccine, which represents more than 80% of the eligible population over the age of 16 and more than 60% of the total population.
The number of patients in critical condition has dropped to 84, of whom 50 are connected to ventilators, the ministry. This is the lowest level since July 2020.
One person died of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the national death toll in the pandemic to 6,376.
The country's coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash told Ynet on Sunday he believes that the Health Ministry will discuss removing the indoors mask mandate in the coming weeks.
"While I can say [an end to the mandate on masks indoors] is on the way, I still cannot specify timeframes,” Ash said. Israel lifted its rule for wearing face masks outdoors on April 18.
Ash also advocated for the vaccination of 12- to 15-year-olds, a move that depends on approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Agency.
The vaccination of children "is sensitive and complex, but I remain calm as we have excellent professionals who can make the right decision," said Ash.
"I believe that the vaccines are safe and effective even among children, but this is a professional issue,” he said, adding that he hopes the FDA will approve vaccines for children this week.
“Vaccinating children is important in order to prevent serious illness. Even if long-term side effects do occur, it is still safer than being sick," he said.
Ash also expressed concern over COVID variants "that will prove somewhat impervious to the vaccine" spreading in Israel.
This he said was the reason for the Health Ministry advisory for only essential travel abroad and for the travel warnings to Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Turkey, where the infection rates are among the highest in the world.
“We have essentially banned trips to these countries," he said. "Those returning from these countries, whether they have previously recovered from COVID or have been vaccinated against it, will have to enter isolation upon their return.”
i24NEWS contributed to this report