Israelis who had been given the second and final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will not be required to go into quarantine after coming in contact with a verified patient a week after receiving it, Israel's top coronavirus health official Prof. Nachman Ash said on Sunday.
In a press briefing, Ash said that the Health Ministry is currently finalizing an online database with all citizens who were inoculated.
These citizens will receive a certificate, formerly dubbed "the green passport", that will allow them greater freedom of movement. Ash said that the government will give its final decision on which privileges the certificate will provide after the nationwide lockdown ends.
Meanwhile, long queues and crowding have been reported on Sunday at several vaccination centers in Israel as the country's inoculation campaign was expanded to include citizens aged 45 and over.
Medical personnel had to turn away people in some places after running out of vaccine doses.
Despite the massive workload, Ash said that the country's healthcare providers are preparing to open more vaccination centers to provide for the growing demand and that the national inoculation campaign is planned to reach 200,000 daily vaccinations within a week.
He also warned that the country's health system is straining under a surge of coronavirus patients requiring hospitalization with 1,200 serious patients, 270 of them on ventilators, and that the average occupancy of dedicated wards stands at 85% nationwide.
"We have reached a record of severe cases and as long as the numbers remain as they are, we cannot end the lockdown and will be forced to extend it by another week," he said, reiterating his comments from last week.
"I hope that another week will suffice and that sensible decisions will be made. We are in a bitter battle that costs lives and brings suffering to many."
Another shipment of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, numbering some 550,000 doses, landed at Ben Gurion Airport early Sunday.
Health Ministry Director-General Hezi Levy told hospital officials Sunday that the number of hospitalizations for coronavirus is not expected to decline in the coming two weeks.
Levy also urged medical centers to open more beds in order to accommodate for the continued influx of patients.
Ministers were set to meet Tuesday evening in order to discuss extending the lockdown.