Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Prof. Itamar Grotto on Tuesday told legislators Israel must reduce its coronavirus infection rate from nearly 12% to 7% before the recently implemented national lockdown can be lifted.
The nationwide closure has been in place since Friday and is expected to last for at least three weeks.
Grotto briefed the Knesset committee on the coronavirus that Israelis for the most part were observing the lockdown.
Israel on Tuesday reported 3,858 new cases for the day before, with 668 people in serious condition with COVID-19, including 159 people on ventilators. The death toll also reached 1,285 on Tuesday.
"We must consider the rate of infection and not the number of confirmed cases which is a result of the number of tests conducted," Grotto told lawmakers.
"The R rate [the number of new people infected by a person with the virus] must be brought down to below 1, while we of course continue to monitor the number of seriously ill cases in hospitals."
The health official told legislators that when Israel considerers an end to lockdown it must implement a gradual return to normality, using color-coding to indicate the level of morbidity in each area of the country.
"We will operate according to coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu's traffic light program, although perhaps initially the entire country would be considered a red zone and under strict mitigation directives," he said.
"We plan to consider any changes only after two-week periods, and must not be swayed by political pressure," Grotto said, adding that the next challenge would be tracing those infected in order to cut chains of contagion.
"We are increasing the number of IDF troops assigned to this effort," Grotto said, "and will also be adding coronavirus wards to the country's hospitals in preparation for winter and the flu season."
The professor earlier Tuesday told Ynet that Israel's system of epidemiological investigation was best in the world.
"We are getting calls from other countries wishing to learn our system," he said.
The entire cabinet was to meet later Tuesday to discuss further restrictions in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.