Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Hezi Levy on Thursday called for Israel to take "more drastic" measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, after almost 4,000 new cases were reported for Wednesday.
"Given the situation in which we find ourselves we must shut down activity for a limited period, with every hardship that entails," Levy told Ynet on Thursday morning.
"We are reaching 4,000 infections a day, what do we want to get to?"
Levy said that Israel must "do something more drastic" than the current steps being taken.
Israel saw 3,904 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday - a daily record high for the country. There were also 405 new diagnoses between midnight and 7:30am Thursday.
Some 43,500 coronavirus tests were processed Wednesday, showing an infection rate of 9% or 1 in 11 tests coming back positive. The national death toll for COVID-19 has also reached 1,054.
Levy on Thursday also appeared to level criticism of the current steps being taken by the government, saying that, "Some of the decisions included political considerations of one public or another. Undoubtedly."
A "traffic light" plan devised by Israel's coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu that would implement full closure in areas of high morbidity was rejected earlier this week after politicians from the ultra-Orthodox community, which is seeing high infection rates, put pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Instead, some 40 locales that were deemed to be "red" zones were placed under night-time curfew for one week beginning Tuesday, with lockdowns implemented between the hours of 7pm and 5am.
Levy also warned Thursday of a decline in the quality of care in Israeli hospitals due to an overloaded healthcare system and burnout among medical professionals.
"We are running amok with an increase in morbidity, an increase in people on respirators; we are seeing more and more patients in hospitals, which makes treatment very difficult," said Levy.
"I think we will need to at least introduce stricter and broader measures," he said. "I think we will have to take more serious steps because we can not afford to continue in this manner.
Levy also warned that the regular protests outside Prime Minister Benja,in Netanyahu's Jerusalem residence were "an engine for increasing infection," and advised the closure of the entire education system for the duration of the Jewish High Holidays that begin next week.