The director-general of the Health Ministry, Prof. Nachman Ash, formerly the country’s coronavirus project manager, has warned that continued travel abroad by Israelis is liable to lead to increased levels of coronavirus infection.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Ash said, “This is not the time to travel abroad. The epidemic is raging in many countries overseas, and any non-essential travel is unadvisable and liable to lead to excessive levels of contagion. It can also lead to people bringing in new and possibly more dangerous mutations,” he noted.

Ash called on Israelis to show responsibility. “We must not be complacent,” he said. “We must follow the guidelines, including – and especially – the rule requiring us to wear face masks in enclosed spaces. We must be meticulous in adhering to quarantine rules and everyone has to go and get vaccinated.”

Professor Ash also stressed that enforcement of the regulations is about to be enhanced, but that at the present time, the Health Ministry is not seeking to impose additional regulations.

“Proper observance of quarantine rules has been shown to reduce contagion,” he said. “The person who catches coronavirus from you could be your family member, your friend… it’s a shame. Keep to the rules and you’ll prevent the virus from spreading.

“Our aim is to enable us to start the new school year on time,” he said, “after such a long time during which our children learned via Zoom or not at all. We want them to be able to learn in school.”

Ash also insisted that the vaccines are still effective, although he admitted that their efficacy has declined. “We are investigating this phenomenon, in order to find out whether this is simply something that happens over time, or because the Delta variant is more resistant,” he said. “So far, we don’t have the answer to that question.”