Israel's coronavirus czar said Thursday health authorities will demand for the full lockdown to be extended by one week.
The country entered a two-week, full nationwide lockdown last week, with the closure set to end on Thursday, January 21. Health officials, however, said the lockdown might be extended due to the surging COVID-19 cases.
Prof. Nachman Ash told Ynet the restrictions could be eased when the number of serious COVID-19 cases, which has recently reached a record high, decreases.
"I hope we will see the start of the decline [in new cases] in the next few days, it takes time," he said. "We are seeing the signs of the flattening of the curve, but not a decrease."
He said the number of new cases at the start of next week as well as tally of serious patients will be a good indicator on whether the lockdown should be extended and for how long.
"I estimate that we will have to extend the lockdown for another week, but we will only know for sure in the middle of next week."
The professor said unlike the two previous lockdowns, this time the Health Ministry did not set a goal of specific number of cases that would entail automatic easing of restrictions.
"This time it's more complex, we have to take two new factors into consideration: the effect of the vaccines and our prognosis for the British mutation and how it affects the infection rate. If we see a relatively sharp decline in the number of serious patients, we will be able to come out [of the lockdown] with a slightly higher number of daily cases than last time."