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As coronavirus infections continue to climb, the Department of Health on Monday recommended that people resume using face masks in enclosed spaces.

In a statement, the ministry noted the “sharp” increase in the number of infections in recent days, “accompanied by an increase in the number of serious cases”.

“In a situation where the economy is completely open, normality is preserved and there are no restrictions. It is the responsibility of each of us to take precautions,” he said.

There was no indication that the ministry would seek to enforce the recommendation, but it could indicate that government restrictions would return, if infection figures continue to rise.

“This is not a requirement, but an act of solidarity and attention to your neighbour,” the statement read.

Israel scrapped its indoor mask requirement in April as infection numbers fell sharply. Outdoor masks have not been compulsory since April last year.

Travelers wearing protective masks at Ben Gurion Airport, August 5, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Since June 6, the rolling average of daily infections has risen from 2,400 a day to nearly 5,000.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, 5,829 new cases were diagnosed on Sunday. With 22,118 tests, the positivity rate was 26.35%.

The virus’ basic reproduction number, or R-value, reached 1.51, the highest since the Omicron wave.

The figure, which represents the situation 10 days earlier, measures the number of people each coronavirus carrier infects on average, with any number above 1 meaning the spread of COVID-19 is increasing. It began to rise above 1 in mid-May, after remaining below that threshold for nearly two months.

There were 103 patients in serious condition, according to ministry figures. The number of seriously ill people has fallen steadily since mid-March, but over the past month has leveled off and has now started to rise slightly.

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