On Monday, Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba happily announced that it had closed down its coronavirus ICU (intensive care unit). 

In a statement, the hospital director, Dr. Shlomi Kodesh, celebrated the closure after a year of treating COVID-19 patients. “I thank each and every one of the employees of the coronavirus intensive care unit,” the Director said. She also gave her salute to front-liners “for standing firm in the face of such a complex challenge and for such a long period.” 

Most of all, Dr. Kodesh admired the medical professionals “for humanity, for compassion and for saving lives.” She also shared the challenges that the team had faced at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The Director explained the team initially had difficulty coping with the different changes in treating and monitoring the patients

Most of all, Kodesh admitted that aside from their difficult task of treating the patients, the team also faced “great uncertainty” on the possible outcome of the virus.

Israel Announces Lower Infection Rates 

During the announcement, the Director also provided an update on the situation. She claimed that currently, they are disinfecting and cleaning the ward to use it as a regular ICU. The hospital plans to assign the remaining patients to separate isolation rooms.

While six coronavirus patients remained under treatment by Monday morning, the situation was far from the initial COVID outbreak. At that time of the outbreak, the ICU was accommodating 185 patients, 175 of which required ventilators. 

Soroka is the second hospital that has successfully closed down its doors for COVID-19 patients. Just last week, the Hadassah-University Medical Center also announced that it had also closed its coronavirus ward. The hospital was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In total, Hadassah admitted as many as 4,500 COVID-related patients, 10 percent of whom were under intensive care. 

The Situation In The North 

However, other hospitals faced a much slower decline. According to Prof. Masad Barhum, director of the Galilee Medical Center, hospitals in the north have a slower recovery. Mossad explained that this might be a result of lower vaccination rates

Despite the slow decline, Barhum said the situation had greatly improved as compared to last year. “We are only dealing with 21 corona patients, who were not all vaccinated,” he said. The director continued, “but at the peak of the virus, we were dealing with 115 hospitalized patients at a time.” 

Zero COVID Deaths

On Thursday, the Israeli Health Ministry declared no new COVID-19 deaths. The announcement came as good news since the last time that the country saw no coronavirus deaths was way back in June 2020.  In addition, Israel proudly shared that infection rates remain relatively low. Based on the recent data, the country lists 120 new cases per day

Successful Vaccination Plan 

In addition, the country is also below the average international infection rates. Generally, first-world countries such as the U.K., France, and the U.S. have an average infection rate of 15 new cases for every one million people

Israel is also leading in terms of its vaccination efforts. The country is also close to achieving herd immunity as 59 percent of its population has been vaccinated. Overall, 90 percent of its senior population have been inoculated, a move that had significantly lowered the death tolls. 

As a result of its successful vaccination efforts, the country now enjoys less strict health and safety requirements. In fact, Israelis were able to enjoy and celebrate Passover. In addition, indoor restaurants are starting to re-open. Residents do not need to wear masks outside. 

In a study, the Israeli Health Ministry announced that the Pfizer vaccine is 95 percent effective in protecting its residents from the COVID-19 infection