Israel is stepping too quickly out of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown and risks going into another one soon, a senior health official warned on Sunday in an interview with Israeli public broadcaster Kan radio.
Sharon Elrai, acting head of the Health Ministry's public health services division, said that Israel's R factor - which indicates the level of coronavirus infections in the population - is on the rise, ominously suggesting that morbidity will soon be on the rise as well.
Elrai's comments come as Israel moved on to reopen its high-street shops that were shut down nearly two months ago as part of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Elrai lamented the government's decision to greenlight the move, claiming that ministers rush to lift restrictions while disregarding the exit strategy they themselves agreed upon.
Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science also warned that the move may cancel previous gains in Israel's efforts to rein in the pandemic and called to prioritize reopening the education system first.
Finance Minister Israel Katz vowed he would expedite the opening of indoor shopping malls and other businesses despite the objections of the Health Ministry.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry reported Sunday morning that authorities have conducted 8,310 coronavirus tests in the past 24 hours and 207 of them returned positive, placing the current national infection rate at 2.6%.
There are currently 8,638 active coronavirus cases across the country, among them 319 patients in serious condition and 143 patients on ventilators.
The national coronavirus death toll rose to 2,664 since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The ministry also reported that Israel's current "red" coronavirus hotspots are primarily Druze and Arab communities in the north of the country. All localities are subject to strict travel and community restrictions.