As COVID-19 infection rates continue to drop across Israel, which leads the world in vaccines per capita, Sheba Medical Center closed its dedicated COVID-19 emergency room and children’s ward. Sheba is now operating a half COVID-19 ward under the management of Dr. Gadi Segal, who treated the first COVID-19 patients in Israel, and a COVID-19 intensive care unit run by Dr. Yael Habib-Yadid.
“I am happy and excited to see the decline in morbidity and the need for hospitalization in the COVID-19 wards,” said Dr. Segal, who added: “We have been waiting for this moment for over a year. It is a great relief for me that this day has finally arrived, but we are not done. It is very important to complete the vaccination of the population in order to celebrate a real triumph over the virus.”
Israel’s first COVID-19 patients were quarantined at Sheba Medical Center in February 2020 after returning from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which experienced one of the first outbreaks of the pandemic. Sheba ranked as one of the top ten hospitals worldwide for the third consecutive year, played a key role in teaching other hospitals and their medical staff how to treat COVID-19 patients and prepare COVID-19 wards.
The number of ventilated COVID-19 patients in Israel has been declining continuously in recent weeks, and the R-value is also consistently lower than 0.8. While between January and mid-February around 8% of all COVID-19 tests came back positive, this figure has also dropped significantly to around 0.6% in the past week. Health experts in Israel and around the world attribute these changes to Israel’s successful inoculation drive.