Israel confirmed six more fatalities from the novel coronavirus Tuesday, bringing the country’s death toll to 258. 

The Health Ministry said that 29 more cases were registered in the country over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 16,507.

It said 66 patients remain in critical condition while 11,843 have recovered from the virus.

Israel began taking measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 in late February, initially barring the entry of non-residents arriving from virus hotspots and gradually imposing a near-total air travel ban.

It also closed all educational institutions and prohibited citizens from leaving their homes except to buy food and medicines or visit a hospital.

A slowdown in new cases over the past few days prompted Tel Aviv to start easing restrictions on movement.

The government approved several measures last week, including the reopening of some businesses and schools for children with special educational needs and a resumption of small-scale prayer gatherings.

Social distancing rules, however, remain in force and wearing face masks in public is still mandatory.

After originating in Wuhan, China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit areas.

The pandemic has killed more than 285,900 people worldwide with more than 4.17 million confirmed cases, while recoveries have surpassed 1.45 million, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University of the US.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan in Ankara

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