Lockdown enforcement in Jerusalem
Lockdown enforcement in Jerusalem Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

The Israeli government may impose a fourth lockdown, a senior Israeli health official warned Monday.

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash told the Knesset Channel Monday morning that a new lockdown may be imposed during the upcoming holiday season.

“The upward trend of the number of new cases and also the number of seriously ill patients hasn’t changed,” Ash said, “so the possibility remains.”

“I don’t want to get to that point, and I don’t think it is correct. It isn’t something we’re signaling, but we do expect to see a change in the trends.”

“There is another statistic which has to be taken into account, and that is the number of people on respirators and in critical condition. Right now, there is a slight increase, but very slight, and if it remains at this level, we won’t need to impose such harsh steps.”

Ash pushed back against suggestions Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel’s primary international travel hub, should be closed down completely.

“I don’t think that’s a measured response. Freedom of travel out of and into the country is important to citizens, and the Supreme Court has also ruled in this area. I don’t think it is realistic. People need to be responsible. There are trips which aren’t critical and so should not be carried out right now. But we can’t make a sweeping rule. People need to be responsible.”

Earlier on Monday, Israel's Health Ministry reported that 1,398 new cases of the coronavirus had been reported Sunday, and that there are currently 11,606 active cases of coronavirus, with 199 hospitalized patients.

Of those, 108 coronavirus patients are in serious condition, 25 are in critical condition, and 20 are on ventilators.