Top health officials on Wednesday warned the further coronavirus restrictions may be revived if infections continue to rise, as the daily case number passed 100 for a third straight day.
“At the moment we can’t say with certainty if this is something local or the start of a broader outbreak,” national coronavirus czar Nachman Ash said.
“I still can’t say we’re in control of this outbreak…. when we see the number of confirmed [cases] drops significantly, we can say it’s under control,” he added. “We still haven’t reached that stage.”
Ash emphasized that the recent infections were focused in the few locations that have seen outbreaks and were not indicative of nationwide spread.
“It’s up to us. If someone doesn’t feel well, even if they’re vaccinated, they should go get tested [for COVID],” said the head of public health services in the Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, in a briefing to reporters.
Alroy-Preis reiterated that the indoor mask mandate would be reimposed if the average number of daily cases is over 100 for a week and said plans were being drawn up to gradually reintroduce restrictions if infections further rise.
She also called on those who are vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19 and who come into close contact with an infected person to get tested. She said a vaccinated or recovered person does not have to quarantine, “but we want him to get tested to know if he was infected.”
The briefing came after the Health Ministry reintroduced a number of restrictions earlier Wednesday, amid the uptick in cases that has been largely attributed to the spread from abroad of the more contagious Delta variant. Among the renewed measures was the requirement to wear face coverings at Ben Gurion Airport and medical facilities, after the indoor mask mandate was lifted last week.
Chezy Levy, director-general of the Health Ministry, stressed that the requirement to wear a mask in outdoor public spaces was not being revived.
Levy also said the ministry was now actively recommending that parents vaccinate their kids aged 12-15. A significant number of the new cases have been linked to outbreaks at schools.
According to the Health Ministry, 101 new cases were recorded on Wednesday since midnight. Before Monday, new daily infections had not passed 100 since late April.
Ministry figures also showed the weekly average of daily cases ticked up to 95, inching closer to the threshold for restoring the indoor mask rule, while the number of active infections further rose to 606.
Since the start of the outbreak last year, 840,225 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Israel, and there have been 6,428 deaths due to the virus.
Earlier, the government voted to postpone next week’s planned reopening of Israel’s borders to vaccinated tourists until August. It also approved the renewed formation of a so-called coronavirus cabinet to oversee its response to the upsurge in COVID cases.