Professor Nachman Ash
Professor Nachman AshDavid Cohen/Flash90

Health Ministry Director General Professor Nachman Ash on Wednesday morning explained part of the Ministry's reason for shortening quarantine to five days.

Speaking to Galei Zahal, Prof. Ash said, "We know that the illness Omicron causes is milder, the number of patients on ECMO machines has not risen at all, and the number of intubated [patients] is about 100. This certainly gives hospitals more breathing room, but there is a visible strain on the wards and on the emergency rooms."

"We understand that there is very low control over this event. We cannot say that we are cutting the chains of infection as we did in the past - even if our steps reduce infections. This wave is a challenge for us at every single point."

Prof. Ash added: "If we do not see an unusual outbreak of PIMS in other countries, we will be able to change the plans for children's quarantine - or even eliminate it completely. That is a huge burden on the public and I hope that this will happen in the coming days."

"Yesterday there were 71,000 new cases. Our estimate is that there are at least two or three times that [number]. It is not impossible that we now have 200,000 new cases daily."

When asked how Israel can shorten quarantine for those confirmed to have COVID-19, Prof. Ash responded, "We estimate that some of those released on the fifth day will still be contagious, and so we require an antigen test, to identify if a person is contagious. Anyone who comes out positive in two tests, on the fourth and fifth days, can stop testing and leave quarantine on the seventh day."