Hebrew University Prof. Yinon Ashkenazy warned ministers Tuesday that Israel's hospitals will pass the 800-person threshold for adequately treating seriously ill coronavirus patients by the end of the week.
The scenario was presented to ministers during a Zoom meeting on Monday.
Ashkenazy said that the vast majority of virus contagions occurred indoors, while there was minimal risk of catching the virus outdoors if social distancing was maintained.
In his estimation, mask wearing was most important indoors, although not a fool-proof prevention method. As such, he said, it was still crucial to limit the numbers of people congregating in one place.
His assessment was supported by Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science, who alongside Ashkenazy advises the government on the coronavirus pandemic.
According to their assessment, Israel's hospitals will see 1,600 serious cases of COVID-19 within no more than three weeks.
"We have been seeing an increase in positive test results, indicating morbidity is higher than the numbers are showing," Segal told Ynet.
"Since 20% of seriously ill patients die of the virus, our predictions show an increase in 6,000 such cases by mid-November and an estimated 1,200 deaths - in the worst case and 3,500 serious cases and 700 deaths as a best case scenario."
Segal also noted that as of August, Israel was already seeing a 10% excess mortality rate compared to 2019.
The cabinet was set to convene at noon to discuss further restrictions.
On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed those making light of the lockdown imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus claiming, "they must not come to us complaining about morbidity."
His words were directed at Likud lawmaker Yifat Shasha-Biton who heads the Knesset Committee on coronavirus, who had questioned some of the government's decisions.
She responded to the criticism by suggesting the prime minister stop blaming his mishandling of the virus on others and take responsibility for his governments policies.
"We must increase hospital capacity, set up an efficient tracing mechanism and enlist public support," Shasha-Biton said. "Netanyahu should set a personal example and not try to escape his complicity by mud-slinging."
Two of Netanyahu's close aides had violated their quarantines after returning from Washington last week. At least one of them was seen leaving the prime minister's residence although both he and Netanyahu were ordered to isolate.
First published: 08:58 , 09.22.20