The Health Ministry said on Thursday evening that 202 coronavirus patients are now connected to ventilators, the highest the figure has been since the start of the fourth infection wave in Israel.
In the meantime, some ministers in the coronavirus cabinet on Thursday rejected criticism of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for neglecting to convene the ministerial forum to hear the recommendations of health experts for more restrictions.
Earlier in an interview with Ynet, Director General of the Health Ministry Nachman Ash said there should be more restrictions on crowded events because morbidity remained high and the number of seriously ill patients continued to increase.
"I would downsize big gatherings, like soccer stadiums, to a point where only 400 people are allowed indoors and 500 outdoors," Ash said.
The panel of medical experts advising the cabinet agreed. "We cannot continue on this track and must take additional steps to slow infections until we see a reduction in morbidity," the health experts said in a statement on Wednesday. Their recommendations were to limit crowding to no more than 300 people in any one location.
The ministers who did not wish to be identified, said that there was no sense in restricting the entire population because of the minority that refuses vaccines. Nearly three million Israelis have not received the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine despite being eligible to receive it and 600,000 have not been vaccinated at all.
Ministers also noted that reducing crowds at sporting and cultural events - as some health officials suggested - made no sense if schools remained open and children were allowed to study indoors.
The coronavirus cabinet last convened on August 30, ahead of the new school year and the prime minister consults regularly with Health Ministry officials and the panel of experts advising his cabinet.
But no meeting of the panel of ministers is scheduled before Bennett returns from New York, where he is set to deliver his speech to the UN General Assembly next Monday.
First published: 19:31, 09.23.21