Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Sunday that Israel is expanding the criteria for coronavirus testing to include those who do not show any signs of infection.
The minister said that after a five-fold rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19 he is calling on Israelis to get tested.
"We are able to conduct 15,000 tests per day and if you feel you are sick or were near someone who is sick, get tested," he said.
In its announcement Sunday, the ministry confirmed 53 new cases of coronavirus since Saturday, bringing the total number of Israelis who have contracted the virus to 17,071.
Out of the current 1,994 patients battling the virus, 33 are in serious condition, out of which 30 require respiratory assistance; 44 have mild symptoms and the rest are in light condition.
According to the ministry's new policy, anyone who shares their residence with a confirmed positive COVID-19 patient, even if they are not presenting with symptoms, must be tested twice, five days apart.
Asymptomatic people who were in contact with a confirmed case in class, at work, or anywhere else, must be tested, as well as residents of communal living facilities such as retirement homes where COVID-19 has been found.
For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, doctors can now refer their patients for testing if they see fit.
Edelstein said he was aware of complaints that tests were not being made available everywhere and assured the public the ministry would be implementing its new policy and ensuring all HMOs do so immediately. He stressed, however, that there would not be broad testing of the entire public.
The minister also said there would be no change in quarantine protocols and even those who had tested negative for the virus but had had contact with a person who was confirmed sick must quarantine for 14 days.
There have now been 134 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students and teachers in one Jerusalem high school, sending the entire student body and faculty into quarantine until June 9.