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November 2, 2020 10:14 am

Rise in New Israeli COVID-19 Cases Sparks Concern

avatar by Israel Hayom /

A street cleaner walks past shuttered shops, amid Israel’s second national coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Ashkelon, Israel, Oct. 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen. – The Israel Defense Forces’ coronavirus task force warned on Monday that the rise in COVID-19 morbidity over the past few days could indicate that the downward trend observed over the course of the past month is slowing down.

According to Health Ministry data, of the 21,385 coronavirus tests carried out on Sunday, 3 percent were positive, up from a low of 1.8 percent on Thursday.

“This probably indicates that the downward morbidity trend is slowing down or potentially coming to halt,” the task force warned, although noting that there had still been a decline in the number of fatalities and the number of patients in serious condition compared to last week.

On Monday, the number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 9,797, down 15 from Sunday night, according to the Health Ministry. Of those, 394 were considered serious, with 172 people being in induced comas. The total number of cases recorded since the onset of the pandemic stood at 315,237, and the death toll was 2,569.

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Also on Sunday, an Israeli health official said the country will take part in European and Australian coronavirus vaccine trials.

Eytan Ben-Ami, head of early-phase clinical trials at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, told local media that Israeli volunteers will be selected to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials run by unnamed companies in Australia and Europe. The trials are set to begin in the coming weeks.

“Thousands of people will be participating in these trials,” Ben-Ami told The Jerusalem Post. “We hope that in the very near future we will have various vaccine options for our population.”

The European trial, like the trial of the Israeli-made BriLife COVID-19 vaccine that kicked off Sunday morning at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and at Sheba, is a Phase I/II trial. The Australian trial is in Phase III.

The Australian and European trials are not expected to interfere with Israel’s own vaccine trial, said Ben-Ami.

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