Israel will shorten quarantine for asymptomatic coronavirus patients to five days, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday at a meeting with health officials in his office in Jerusalem.
The vaccinated will need to undergo two antigen tests on the fourth and fifth day and may step out from quarantine if both show a negative result.
The unvaccinated will have to get tested on the fifth day of quarantine at a recognized testing facility, and cannot rely on a home test.
The move comes as a tsunami of coronavirus infections sweeps across Israel and the multitude of quarantines disrupts daily life in the country and its economy.
The Education Ministry said on Sunday that some 200,000 schoolchildren and personnel were in quarantine, having either contracted the virus or come into close contact with a confirmed virus carrier.
Meanwhile, a host of senior health experts spoke out against the move earlier on Monday.
Prof. Galia Rahav, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at the Sheba Medical Center, said that five days are not long enough to prevent infection, citing studies that showed the virus remains potent and can spread to others even seven days after exposure.
"With the healthcare system already coming under pressure — at least one week of quarantine is needed, and only after a test returns negative, it should be lifted," she said.
"I would not like to be treated by a sick member of the medical staff who can infect me with COVID. I would like to see more data before a decision to cut down quarantine days is made. I understand there is a manpower shortage because of infections but from a health perspective, it would be wise to wait."