As Positivity Rate Drops To Lowest In 4 Mths, Israel Names New Coronavirus Czar

A yeshivah bochur is tested for the coronavirus in Bnei Brak, March 31, 2020. (Ariel Schalit/ AP)

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Israel’s Health Ministry confirmed 780 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday morning, showing a positivity rate of 2.1%, the lowest rate since June 21.

There are currently 12,733 active virus cases, with 467 seriously ill patients, the first time in about six weeks that the number of seriously ill patients has dropped to below 500. A total of 193 of these patients are ventilated. Twelve fatalities were recorded overnight, raising the death toll to 2,452.

The coronavirus cabinet convened on Monday to discuss further steps in easing lockdown measures, ultimately concluding on the reopening of first through fourth grades and after-school programs beginning on Sunday as well as the reopening of hair salons and other businesses that receive the public with the caveat of serving one customer at a time.

The plan calls for 1st and 2nd grades to be split into two groups that will alternate days, with each group attending school for three days a week. Students in 3rd and 4th grades will be split up into capsules and attend school for five days a week versus the normal six days a week of school in Israel.

Students in 5th grade and above will continue with remote classroom learning.

A replacement for Israel’s coronavirus czar, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, was named on Tuesday: Prof. Nachman Ash, director of the Division of Medicine for Maccabi Healthcare and a professor in the Health Management Department of Ariel University. He also served as a military doctor for 25 years, serving as the IDF’s surgeon general during the last four years of his service. His wife, Dr. Shifra Ash, is the head of pediatric oncology at Rambam Hospital in Haifa.

Prof. Nachman Ash (Maccabi PR)

Ash, 59, who earned his medical degree at Tel Aviv University and has a Master’s degree in Medical Informatics from Harvard and another Master’s degree in political science from Haifa University, will begin transitioning to his new position on Wednesday. He has worked previously in the Health Ministry, serving as the senior deputy director-general for Health Informatics from 2012 to 2013.

Gamzu entered the position with the intention to return to his position as the head of Ichilov Hospital in November.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)