JERUSALEM

Four COVID-19 patients died and 34 new cases were confirmed in Israel over the past 24 hours, authorities said on Tuesday.

The overall case count in Israel is now 15,589 and the death toll stands at 208, according to the Health Ministry.

It said 117 patients remain in critical condition, while 7,375 have recovered and been discharged from hospitals so far.

Israel started taking measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus in late February, initially barring 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 supplies and medicines or visit a hospital.

A dramatic slowdown in new cases over the past few days – the figure plunged from 345 this past Saturday to just 23 on Monday – has prompted Tel Aviv to start easing movement restrictions.

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.

More than 3.05 million people in 185 countries and regions have been infected by the coronavirus since it emerged in China last December, with the US and Europe being the world’s hardest-hit areas.

A majority of people – over 896,000 – have recovered from COVID-19, but the disease has claimed more than 211,300 lives so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the US.

* Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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