Three weeks into a nationwide lockdown, Israel should have seen already seen a much lower morbidity rate, said a senior health official Wednesday.
"A week into the lockdown, we should have seen a lower morbidity rate, but we still have not seen a dramatic change. This means only one thing - people are still gathering en masse," said former head of the Israeli Medical Association, Prof. Leonid Eidelman.
While there has been a downturn in the number of daily new cases, the positivity rate of tests in Israel remains high at 10.5%.
The Health Ministry said Wednesday that 4,674 new cases had been confirmed since midnight. The national death toll currently stands at 1,803.
Eidelman says there are still too many people violating restrictions, and called on public figures to provide a better example.
Israel entered its second lockdown of the pandemic on Sept. 18, hours before the start of the Jewish New Year, due to soaring infection rates that the government had struggled to bring under control.
The lockdown closed all non-essential business, confined people to a small distance from their homes and - due to emergency legislation hastily pushed through parliament - restricted public protests and indoor prayer congregations.
On Tuesday, both Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel and Shin Bet security service director Nadav Argaman were revealed to have violated the lockdown, and on Wednesday Ynet revealed that Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also breached restrictions when she summoned her hairstylist to the residence last week.
"I saw people in synagogues on Yom Kippur in numbers higher than the lockdown restrictions permitted," Eidelman said. "People just continue to ignore mitigation regulations."
Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levi told Ynet on Wednesday that he is cautiously optimistic that there is in fact a downward trend in new cases.
"Still we must maintain vigilance," he said.
Eidelman said there would be a clearer indication two weeks after the month-long High Holidays cto a close this weekend.
"There are hot spots that must be dealt with and unless they show a drop in morbidity we will not be able to lift the lockdown," Eidelman said.
"I am referring to the ultra-Orthodox community that is still thumbing its nose at the restrictions. People simply do not understand the dangers posed by this virus."