A senior health expert on Tuesday said he anticipates further lifting of current coronavirus restrictions as the COVID infection rate in Israel continues to decline.
The pandemic in the country has appeared to be ebbing for the past several weeks. Health officials said that on Monday 3,186 people tested positive for COVID, with infection rate dropping to 2.7%. The tally of severe cases, meanwhile, has also declined and now stands at 505.
Prof. Ran Balicer told Ynet the booster shot campaign is beginning to have a positive effect on the infection data, and that he hopes the hospitals will soon feel the burden being lifted as well.
"The decline in infections is rapid and dramatic. We are seeing the impact of the 3.5 million booster shots, which are currently protecting at the maximum level from infection, illness and serious illness," he said.
"The burden on hospitals and lack of ECMO machines is still there, but it can't increase. We currently have between 50 and 55 patients connected to ECMOs, which is the maximum the health system's capacity allows. The decline in serious illness came at the critical moment."
He said if the return of children to schools following the High Holidays would not lead to a renewed spike in infections, he backs removing some health restrictions, including the Green Pass curbs.
Health Ministry officials on Sunday recommended to Israel's coronavirus cabinet to scrap some Green Pass restrictions if coronavirus morbidity continues to decline. However, the cabinet did approve the loosening of Green Pass restrictions in museums and libraries to allow school trips to them, as well as making the certificate unnecessary for the lending of books.
"The Health Ministry did not offer to lift the curbs today, but said that preparations should be made in case there is a steady decrease in infections and serious illness, and no significant increase is seen due to the reopening of schools.
"Naturally, we need to prepare for this. When will there be a lifting of restrictions? "About 10 days after the reopening of school there will be first indications as to whether there is a jump in infections or not."