Israel has started a pilot to use an innovative saliva-based PCR test to check whether individuals are infected with the coronavirus, the Coronavirus National Knowledge and Information Center, Defense Ministry and Bar Ilan University announced Thursday, as morbidity in the country continued to decline. The results take about 45 minutes.

The standard PCR test technology used in Israel and in the rest of the world entails the use of a nose/mouth swab and takes at least several hours to be processed and offer results.

The saliva test was developed by Bar Ilan’s Dr. Amos Danieli with the cooperation and financial backing of the Health Ministry. In laboratory conditions, its accuracy proved similar to that of regular swab tests.

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The pilot will take place for about two weeks at the testing station in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. Participants of different ages will undergo both a regular and a saliva test.

Also on Thursday, the data in Israel continued to improve.

Some 2,369 cases were registered on Wednesday, with 2.3% of the 110,000 people screened testing positive.

Serious patients stood at 475; two weeks earlier there were 731.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the coronavirus cabinet meeting, October 3, 2021. (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

At the same time, according to a report by Channel 12, the number of patients in critical conditions on heart-lung ECMO machines reached 58, marking a new record and creating problems of shortages in some hospitals. Some 90% of them are not vaccinated, 5% are in the process of being vaccinated, and 5% are vaccinated without a booster.

The country currently has some 33,000 active cases, down from over 80,000 at the peak of the fourth wave.

In light of the encouraging data, the coronavirus cabinet approved Wednesday night that in the coming days, the Green Pass will cease to be required for several outdoor venues: tourist attractions starting from Friday and restaurants from Monday.

In addition, the Health Ministry decided that until October 17 customers will be able to access businesses that operate within the Green Pass system also by presenting their vaccination or recovery certificate.

After the new Green Pass system came into effect on Sunday, the ministry’s Traffic Light website and app, where people can download their documentation, have been experiencing technical glitches.

According to the new definition of “fully vaccinated,” only people who have been inoculated with a booster or who received their second shot less than six months ago are eligible for the Green Pass, in addition to those who have recovered less than six months earlier or have recovered and received one shot. 

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