Sheba Medical Center announced that it was closing its coronavirus emergency room and children's' coronavirus ward on Thursday, as infection rates continued to fall across the country.
The hospital began dismantling the emergency room built specifically to absorb coronavirus patients after a year of battling the outbreak. The coronavirus ward Safra Children's Hospital's was closed as well on Thursday.
Sheba is now operating half a coronavirus ward under the management of Dr. Gadi Segal, who treated the first coronavirus patients in Israel, and a coronavirus intensive care unit run by Dr. Yael Habib-Yadid.
"We knew about the virus over a year ago, when more was hidden than revealed and we dealt with the unknown," said Segal. "I am happy and excited to see the decline in morbidity and the need for hospitalization in the coronavirus wards. We have been waiting for this moment for over a year and it is a great relief for me to know that this day has come but we have not yet reached a safe shore. It is very important to complete the vaccination of the population in order to celebrate a real victory over the virus."
Israel's first coronavirus patients were quarantined at Sheba Medical Center in February after returning from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which experienced one of the first outbreaks in the pandemic. The hospital was instrumental in training additional hospitals and medical staff in handling coronavirus patients and preparing coronavirus wards.
As of Thursday evening, 4,459 Israelis were actively infected with the novel coronavirus, with 280 patients in serious condition and 152 on ventilators. This marked the first time the number of patients in serious condition fell below 300 in the past four months. The death toll stood at 6,279 as of Thursday evening.
On Wednesday, 274 new cases of the virus were reported, with only 0.5% of tests returning positive. The R number, representing how many people an infected person infects on average, stood at 0.76.