More than 7,500 Israeli students and faculty are currently in quarantine due to exposure to the coronavirus, the Health Ministry said Wednesday.
The number has grown by more than 2,500 in the past 24 hours.
Since Tuesday, the number of students and teaching staff infected with the virus has reached 255; seven more schools have been closed due to outbreaks, bringing the total to 43.
The educational institution with the highest number of patients, the Gymnasia Rehavia in Jerusalem, was on Wednesday disinfected. At least 173 people with a direct link to the school, including staff, students and others, have contracted the virus.
On Wednesday afternoon, a religious girl’s high school in Ashkelon was closed after a student tested positive for coronavirus.
Some 700 students and staff at Ulpana Tzvia have been told to go into isolation for at least a week.
Earlier Wednesday, authorities decided to expand the quarantine of seventh-grade students at Makif Gimmel School in Be'er Sheva to all its students and teaching staff. All the children attending al-Yakut kindergarten in Rahat have also been placed in quarantine due to a case of coronavirus there.
Makif Vav High School in Be'er Sheva was also closed Wednesday, while parents demanded that students at other schools in the city are told stay home.
This morning, almost no students turned up for classes at the city's Makif Zayin High School.
One student who did arrive, however, was 11th-grader Noga Avitan.
"I came despite my parents' concern and call not to come because we have to study as scheduled," she said. "Out of a class of 32 students, only seven came in. I did worry this morning too, but despite the anxiety, I decided to come in anyway."
With the rise in cases in southern Israel, Dr. Uri Galanta, the head of the coronavirus ward at Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, called for local residents to follow guidelines aimed at restricting the spread of the virus.
"There is an upward trend in infection in our region … [which] requires us all to act responsibly and adhere to regulations on wearing masks, observing social distancing and keeping our hands hygienic," he said.
"While most patients suffer from mild symptoms, some may develop severe pneumonia during the course of the disease, which in severe cases requires respiratory and complex measures, as we saw in the previous wave."