Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov on Wednesday expressed concern that the coronavirus outbreak will worsen over the Pesach (Passover) holiday.
"There is a sharp rise in the number of cases," he told a press conference. "Today, we are paying the price of Purim's events, and we're concerned that Pesach will bring more significant events."
"We are following the developments in Israel and around the world. We are seeing that in Israel, the numbers continue to climb, but the picture we're looking at is the situation with the seriously ill patients, who are unconscious and on ventilators, and those who died. Yesterday we saw a very great rise in a single day, which has slowed today. We still can't say that the trend has changed.
"Today or tomorrow we will issue new guidelines. It could be that we will place a lockdown on certain cities, with the support of the Health Minister. We are very worried about areas with a high population density. The tools of information and awareness are more important than all the enforcement tools, in our eyes."
However, Bar Siman Tov said he does not see the guidelines relaxing before Pesach.
"We are very concerned that if people increase their interactions prior to the holiday of Pesach, the number of people infected will be high. We call on the public to keep to the guidelines. We are continuing to increase the rate of testing, and so far we have met the goals we set for ourselves," he said.
"It's too early to talk about optimism at this point. We are concerned and we are following what's happening here, in the West Bank, and in Gaza. The deciding factor is the number of patients who are seriously ill. We hope that after Pesach, we'll be able to relax the guidelines."
Professor Siegal Sadetzki, the head of the Public Health Services, said: "There will be a concrete strategy to remove ourselves from this crisis. We are waiting to see which populations will be infected, and our strategy will be in accordance to the facts on the ground. We will create special lab tests in nursing homes to prevent the spread of the virus, and we will have to celebrate the Pesach seder with only the members of our households."