Nitzan Horowitz
Nitzan HorowitzAvshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) does not expect there to be a lockdown, despite the increase in coronavirus infections.

Speaking to Galei Zahal, Horowitz said, "I don't think there will be a lockdown, and I don't want there to be a lockdown."

"We are doing everything to ensure that it won't happen - I don't see a reason to scare people and to speak ahead of time about things that we can't know. Last time, we passed Delta without it. I hope that we will manage to pass Omicron the same way."

He added: "I will say cautiously that there are indications that Omicron is less virulent, but because it is very infectious and there are a lot of unvaccinated people, for them the illness may be severe. There are testimonies regarding an increase in hospitalizations in Britain and the US, so people need to go get vaccinated."

Last week, World Health Organization (WHO) said that it does not yet have enough data on the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus to say if it is more severe than the Delta variant.

"We do have some data suggesting that rates of hospitalization are lower," WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove, said in a briefing with media, according to the Reuters news agency.

However, she emphasized that it is too early to draw conclusions, since, "we have not seen this variant circulate long enough in populations around the world, certainly in vulnerable populations."