The number of active coronavirus cases in Israel passed 31,000 on Wednesday, the highest figure recorded since the onset of the pandemic in March and a one-week increase of 10,000 cases, according to the Israeli Health Ministry.

To date, there have been 54,663 confirmed cases in total, while 430 have died of the virus, according to ministry data. There are 259 patients currently listed as being in serious condition, 82 of whom are on ventilators.

Also on Wednesday, the ministry announced that it was changing quarantine guidelines, reducing the amount of time some patients would need to spend in isolation.

While those exposed to known carriers and those returning from overseas will still need to self-isolate for 14 days, under the new guidelines asymptomatic patients will be able to exit quarantine 10 days from the time they receive their positive diagnosis.

Symptomatic patients who know the date of onset of their symptoms will be required to self-isolate for 10 days from that date, followed by at least three days during which no symptoms are experienced. Symptomatic patients who do not know the date of onset will need to self-isolate for 10 days from the time they receive their positive diagnosis, followed by at least three days during which they show no symptoms.

In all cases, a doctor must confirm the patients no longer have the virus before they are able to exit quarantine, however, unlike previously, under the new guidelines a second COVID-19 test will not be required to confirm the patients no longer have the virus.

According to the ministry, in adopting the new guidelines it is following the World Health Organization (WHO), which updated its quarantine recommendation in May.

According to the WHO, “it appears safe to release patients from isolation based on clinical criteria that require a minimum time in isolation of 13 days.” However, “it is important to note that the clinical criteria require that patients’ symptoms have been resolved for at least three days before release from isolation, with a minimum time in isolation of 13 days since symptom onset.”

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