JERUSALEM: Israel's health ministry on Tuesday (Sep 12) advised people with compromised immune systems to wear masks in crowded indoor spaces as it marks an increase in COVID-19 hospitalisations ahead of the Jewish holidays.
In a statement, the ministry said there was a "moderate rise" in hospitalisations due to a number of COVID variants found both in Israel and around the world.
"Ahead of the holidays and as a result of increased morbidity, the health ministry recommends people in at-risk groups or those who want to limit the risk of infection wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces."
Large family gatherings are common during the Jewish holiday season, which begins on Sep 15 and extends over about a month.
The ministry said it was soon preparing to issue vaccines that target new subvariants.
COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations have been on the rise in the US, Europe and Asia but are well below previous peaks. Israel is among six countries where a highly mutated COVID-19 variant called BA.2.86 has been detected, but which scientists have said is unlikely to lead to a devastating wave of severe disease and death.