A senior Health Ministry official said Tuesday that Israel is currently seeing the beginning of a third coronavirus wave due to continued rise in infection.
Health Ministry's Head of Public Health Services Sharon Alroy-Preis said during a weekly briefing that she is concerned by the rising number of new COVID-19 cases. On Monday over 1,200 people tested positive for the pathogen for the first time since October.
"This is the beginning of the third wave, we still do not know the full effects of the concessions that we've allowed," she said, referring to the easing of lockdown curbs. "We are expected to see an increase in the coefficient of infection and in the number of new verified cases."
Last week, the government lifted a host of coronavirus curbs, including partial reopening of high schools and shopping centers, which some health experts said might negatively impact the contagion rate.
"We are not trying to declare a lockdown on holidays," she said, referring to the upcoming Hanukah holiday. "We are closely monitoring the infection index and we may need to take preventative measures. One of the ideas that has come up is to implement night curfew during the holiday. It is being discussed, but we are not there yet."
She also said that at least 90 communities in Israel are seeing a worrying increase in the infection rate, including Be'er Sheva and Ramat Gan.
"About 40% of the contagion is in the Arab sector and 9% in the ultra-Orthodox sector," she said. "We are closely monitoring the general sector. There are 90 municipalities in the State of Israel that are changing trend. This is the reversal of the trend that we've been fearing. That's how the second wave started."
Alroy-Preis added that Israelis should not count on a coronavirus vaccine becoming available this winter.
"Even if in the first quarter [of 2021] a certain amount of vaccines will arrive, it still will not be enough for the majority of the population. We're not there yet. At the moment, we need to trust what we have, which is a mask and careful and responsible conduct."