Israel saw 2,001 new daily coronavirus cases on Monday with the contagion rate falling slightly below eight percent, health officials reported.
The Health Ministry said on Tuesday morning after conducting 26,983 tests, the infection rate now stands at 7.5%.
There are 321 people hospitalized in a serious condition, of which 97 are ventilated. The death toll from the virus-related complications has increased to 480.
The increase in cases has caused an increasing number of hospitals to report their coronavirus wards were full to capacity and were unable to receive new patients. Since the beginning of the week, four hospitals have already exceeded 100% capacity resulting in the need to transfer patients to hospitals in the center of the country.
In efforts to help solve the problem of overcrowding in hospitals the Health Ministry began implementing an early release of patients suffering from mild symptoms of coronavirus and the transfer of elderly patients to geriatric care facilities for treatment but the rapid increase in cases continued and coronavirus wards did not see any relief.
The Health Ministry pronounced six cities to be red zones with a growing number of COVID-19 cases requiring an increase of testing, educating residents of the risks from the virus and restricting movement in and out of neighborhoods.
The cities include primarily ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak, Beitar Illit, Modi'in Ilit and Elad as well as parts of Beit Shemesh and the Arab city of Qalansawe.
Professor Ronni Gamzu, recently appointed to head the coronavirus response team, said the problem was not only lack of physical space and beds but also a shortage of trained medical staff able to treat the growing number of patients.