Israel's top coronavirus health official, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, announced on Tuesday that every citizen will be able to undergo a coronavirus test without consulting a physician first.
So far, only citizens residing in "red zones", which have high COVID-19 infection rates, could get tested without seeing a doctor.
"The health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are ready and will execute this in the coming days. Everything will be open and available, and test results will also be available within hours," Gamzu said. "I want the entire state of Israel to have less than 5% positive test results, therefore we need more testing."
"I want each person to get tested, especially people who have the slightest suspicion of being asymptomatic patients. In my opinion, as many people as possible should get tested, there are enough test kits. I do not fear labs would collapse under the pressure. The HMOs are working and know the exact workload expected on the laboratories. There may be some hiccoughs here and there, but it's a price I'm willing to pay."
During his daily briefing to staff, the coronavirus czar also called on authorities to raise fines for transgressions of public health directives.
Gamzu also said that as of Tuesday, Israel no longer has any significant "red" coronavirus hot spots requiring localized closures.
He said this ahead of a meeting of the so-called Coronavirus Cabinet, which directs the government's response to the pandemic, to discuss lifting further restrictions as the country emerges from a month-long nationwide lockdown imposed in an effort to stem a spiraling infection rate.
The meeting was later postponed to Wednesday due to disagreements between the different parties on an outline for an exit plan for the education system.