The Health Ministry on Tuesday morning reported that 2,123 Israelis have tested positive for COVID-19 out of 90,153 tests carried out over the past 24 hours, putting the national coronavirus infection rate at 2.32%, reaching its highest peak since March.
Out of 12,385 active coronavirus patients nationwide, 121 were hospitalized in serious condition, including 25 people on ventilators, the ministry said. The national COVID-19 death toll stood at 6,461 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.
The surge in cases has been largely attributed to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, which saw the government reintroduce some health measures after the country had lifted almost all restrictions.
"We are seeing a very high rate of infection due to the Delta strain," said Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz during a visit Tuesday to the coronavirus ward at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
"We warned people about this and took the necessary steps to support preparations by hospitals around the country for the treatment of critically ill COVID patients," he said.
Horowitz repeated the recent call by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for anyone who has not yet received the vaccine, despite Israel's massive vaccination drive, to do so as soon as possible.
"Israel is among the world's leading countries in vaccines, but there are still many who have not been vaccinated," the health minister said.
Horowitz also said that the Health Ministry is deliberating whether to give a third dose of the COVID vaccine to the elderly, despite a current lack of clinical data from its manufacturers. Israel is currently administering a third dose to people with a weakened immune system.
"Regarding the possibility of a third jab if and when we decide on it... we will be prepared and ready with a stock of vaccines for everyone," said Horowitz.
"We have to follow the guidelines such as wearing a mask so as not to worsen the situation," Horowitz said.
He also called on those people who have been told to go into quarantine to abide by the order.
"You are protecting yourself and your those around you," he said.
According to Health Ministry, about 10% of all those diagnosed Monday were returnees from abroad. Despite the government strongly urging Israel's against non-essential travel abroad, Ben-Gurion Airport has been packed with travelers in recent days.
Health Ministry Director General Prof. Nachman Ash was to meet with the directors of the country's hospitals on Tuesday afternoon, to discuses preparations for the expected increase in COVID patients in Israel.