Israel's coronavirus czar on Wednesday said he cannot definitively say if the recent COVID-19 surge in the country is "under control".
Two coronavirus outbreaks in schools in Binyamina and Modi'in have led to the daily number of COVID cases spike to the highest since April. The Health Ministry said Wednesday morning the tally of new, daily cases has surpassed 100 for the second day in a row.
Prof. Nachman Ash said during a special press conference conducted to address the outbreaks, that only after the number of acting COVID cases significantly declines, it would be safe to say the outbreak is under control.
"There is contagion spreading from Binyamina and Modi'in to nearby areas. However, I cannot say this is a widespread outbreak across the country," he said, referring to an outbreak at an elementary school in the northern city of Pardes Hanna-Karkur, which was reported just hours before the press conference.
"We have not yet formulated the steps that we will take. We conduct assessments every day. We will see what the infection rate is in the coming days and according to that we will set the rules."
He also advised Israelis to avoid traveling overseas unless it is essential. "If travel is not essential, we recommend not traveling abroad - not now, not in this summer. Infection rate around the world is high. It is possible to catch dangerous variants and bring them to Israel.
"We call on those who have already booked vacation packages to try to cancel them and spend time in the country."
Health Ministry's Public Health Director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, who also attended the press conference along with Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levi, said health officials are mulling bringing back the mask mandate, which was lifted just last week.
"If we will see over 100 new patients for several days in a row, we will return the mandate to wear masks in confined spaces. Not in open spaces at this stage."
She added that people who have been vaccinated don't have to enter self-isolation if they have come in contact with a verified COVID carrier, but they should get a coronavirus test.
"The obligation to self-isolate applies to people who arrive from the six countries with high-risk of coronavirus infection," she said.
"It is important to know that those who are vaccinated and have recovered [from COVID] can also become infected, so we ask for a test if one comes into contact with a verified carrier. It is not required to quarantine, but we want [the individual] tested to know if [he or she] is contagious."