New research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem indicates that since the Israeli government reinstated bans on public gatherings approximately 10 days ago, the country is seeing a drop in the number of COVID-19 patients listed in moderate and serious condition, with another decrease expected over the next few days.

Additionally, the study indicates that the attack rate in Israel has dropped below 1, which means that corona carriers are infecting one person or fewer, and indicates that the spread of the virus is being checked.

Professor Yinon Ashkenazy of the Racah Institute of Physics, one of the authors of the report, said, “Our measurements, compiled from an analysis of the numbers of moderately and seriously ill patients, show a significant slowdown in the spread of the virus. Our conclusion is that the steps taken on July 17, including limiting the number of people allowed to gather to 10 in enclosed spaces and 20 outdoors, actually worked. The spread of the virus has been slowing for some time, and the conclusion from that is that it is possible to open [the economy], but there is no need to be severe. The existing restrictions have worked, and we need to think about how to live life in accordance with them.

“The good thing is that we didn’t have to instate a full shutdown,” said Ashkenazy.

While the spread of the virus might be slowing, the number of Israelis testing positive continues to climb, with an all-time record of 2,062 tests coming back positive in the 24-hour period from midnight Monday to midnight Tuesday, the Corona National Information and Knowledge Center reported on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 33,377 active or symptomatic corona patients in Israel.

The number of COVID-19 patients listed in serious condition dropped for a second day, standing at 315 on Wednesday, 96 of whom were on ventilators. Another 155 patients were listed in moderate condition. The total number of corona patients hospitalized nationwide stood at 736, and as of early Wednesday, the death toll reached 486 since the start of the pandemic in Israel.

The number of COVID-19 units in Israeli hospitals with no beds available dropped, with only Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh), Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem and Sourasky Medical Center at or above full capacity.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein toured Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, including the hospital’s coronavirus unit. Netanyahu and Edelstein were briefed on the hospital’s preparations for this coming winter, when a spike in coronavirus, as well as seasonal flu, is expected.

After the visit, Netanyahu said, “I was impressed by the dedication of the nurses and the team of doctors, who are working difficult shifts in protective equipment, with masks and great sacrifice.”

“As of now, they can deal with the severe patients. Nevertheless, there is a question of personnel, of when we reach the warning point where they tell us–‘We can’t accept any more patients.’ This is the major question. As of now, due to [their] proficiency, their dedication, and their organization, we still have room,” said the prime minister, adding that Professor Ronni Gamzu, who is coordinating the government’s war on COVID-19, would address the issue of hospital availability.

As of Wednesday morning, 426 doctors, 808 nurses and 1,763 other health-care professionals were in quarantine.

Since the start of the pandemic, 32,692 Israelis have recovered from the virus.

In a related development, Health Ministry Deputy Director General Professor Itamar Grotto said on Wednesday that the Health Ministry would soon be approving new guidelines for civil aviation, under which citizens of “green” countries where coronavirus is under control will not be required to be tested for COVID-19 or enter quarantine upon arriving in Israel.

Israel’s “green” list of countries currently includes Greece, Cyprus, Montenegro, Georgia, Germany and other nations.

However, it appears unlikely that Israelis will be able to travel to any of those nations in the near future, even if they provide proof of a recent negative coronavirus test.

Gadi Golan and Shimon Yaish contributed to this report.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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