Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that the nationwide coronavirus lockdown that took effect 10 days ago would last at least a month, and not only until October 10 as initially announced.
"It would not be less than a month, it could take longer," Netanyahu said during a Facebook Live event.
While winning praise for its handling of the virus in the first wave of the pandemic, Israel rushed to reopen its economy at the end of May, triggering a more virulent second wave that it is has since struggled to contain and leading to the second lockdown that began September 18.
Asked Tuesday when the education system was expected to return, the prime minister said that every effort would be made to implement capsule-learning in the classroom.
"It is a lot of money but it is vital," he said.
"My approach is to try to allow distancing and capsules in first and second grades as well, because we see that the virus spreads and infects even at those ages. It [also] infects teachers and causes many problems."
The prime minister also warned that the infection was spreading rapidly in Israel and urged people to abide by health regulations put in place by the authorities.
"The number of patients is climbing fast," Netanyahu said. "There are more than 800 patients in serious condition [a number experts have warned would be a red line in terms of patient care]. Unfortunately, the number of deaths is also rising, and therefore I ask people to comply with the rules and with the police."
He added: "We are in this boat together."
Earlier Tuesday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned that Israeli should accept that the current lockdown could be extended past its current expiration date of October 10.
Edelstein told Israeli public broadcaster KAN that the second national lockdown, said to be much more prohibitive than the first in March and April, would be lifted gradually over an extended period of time.
“The closure will not be lifted - unequivocally. There is no scenario that in 10 days we will lift everything and say, ‘everything is over, everything is fine,”' Edelstein said.
Netanyahu also said Tuesday morning that the government was preparing the country's healthcare system to accommodate some 1,500 seriously ill coronavirus patients in the coming days.
The premier also said that a lockdown exit strategy was being devised to prevent the country from relapsing into another national quarantine.
Israel has in recent days surpassed the United States in the number of daily fatalities per capita from COVID-19, according to a government study published on Tuesday.
According to Health Ministry data released on Tuesday, some 1,121 new cases of COVID-19 were discovered over the Yom Kippur holiday, with only 8,105 people being tested on Monday.
So far, 1,507 Israelis have died from the coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, with the ministry recording another 65,025 active cases.
There are 755 patients in serious condition in Israel, including 207 people currently on ventilators.
First published: 16:57, 09.29.20