Professor Nachman Ash
Professor Nachman AshYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Health Ministry Director General Professor Nachman Ash on Thursday morning said that it is too early to determine whether Israel has begun its fifth wave of COVID-19.

"There is a rise in the number of cases, of new cases and maybe a slight rise in the number of seriously ill," Prof. Ash told Kan Bet. "But we still can't know if this will develop into a real wave."

According to him, even if there is a rise in infections, it does not mean that restrictions must immediately be placed on the public: "We cannot continue with the restrictions over time. When there is a drop in infections, we need to loosen, and when there is a rise - we need to consider our next steps. We do not want, in the meantime, to go back to mandatory restrictions."

At the same time, Prof. Ash noted that, "As long as there isn't a variant or strain that is dangerous that is discovered in the world, and which we want to block - I don't think that we will bring back the tests at Ben Gurion Airport."

"Regarding masks in open areas, we need to weigh that in accordance with the rise in infections. The longer the rise continues, the more likely we will need to recommend something like that."

When asked if it would be correct to offer a fifth dose of the vaccine, Prof. Ash said that there is a great deal of discussion regarding whether to administer another vaccine now.

"Getting vaccinated every six months is something unusual," he said. "We understand that for this subvariant, the vaccine is less protective, certainly against infections. Therefore, a general recommendation for a fifth dose is not correct."