COVID: Tourism plan, shortening of isolation to be discussed at cabinet


Some 730 new COVID-19 cases were registered in Israel on Monday, according to a Tuesday update by the Health Ministry, as the coronavirus cabinet was expected to meet later in the day to discuss the country’s next moves against the outbreak, including a strategy to let tourists in and the possibility to reduce the isolation period to seven days, from the current minimum of ten.
While the number of new virus carriers marks the record since March, the serious morbidity – which the government considered the most crucial parameter to monitor – remained limited.

Some 45 patients were in serious conditions as of Tuesday morning, two less than 24 hours before. In April, with a similar number of active cases – around 4,600 – there were some 270 such patients.

As anticipated by the Health Ministry’s Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash in a press conference on Monday, the ministry updated the data regarding the number of tests performed daily in the last month, after it was discovered that a significant number of negative PCRs performed at Ben-Gurion airport had been counted twice.

While the previous data showed that in the past weekdays, the number of tests performed was often higher than 70,000, after the correction, the figure stands at around 50,000-55,000. As a consequence, also the rate of tests returning a positive result increased from 0.6-0.8% to 1-1.3%.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz were set to meet with health officials in the early afternoon to prepare for the cabinet.

Among others, the cabinet is expected to discuss possible measures to contain the current outbreak, including an abridge version of the green pass.

Until a few weeks ago, the green pass was granted to fully vaccinated and recovered individuals or children too young to get jabbed who had undergone a PCR test in the previous 72 hours, giving them access to specific venues and activities.

According to the new proposals, events with over 100 people would be only open to people who are vaccinated, recovered or who have a negative corona test, according to the Israeli media.

After Bennett asked the Health Ministry to look into the possibility to reduce the quarantine period – which currently lasts a minimum of 10 days with two negative tests or two weeks without – health officials will reportedly recommend a reduction of the isolation to seven days.

As far as the plan to reopen the country’s borders to foreign nationals, Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov is expected to present a comprehensive plan to the cabinet.

Israel has been closed to foreign nationals for more than a year, with limited exceptions.

Vaccinated tourists from countries with low morbidity were supposed to be allowed in starting on July 1, but the date was postponed to August 1 amid the increase of cases.

According to the new outline, those who are inoculated with a vaccine recognized by the US FDA or the EU EMA will be able to enter with just a negative PCR test, while individuals jabbed with other vaccines will undergo a rapid serological test upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, with results in 15 minutes, to confirm the presence of antibodies in their blood.

The goal is to open up on August 1, but the decision will depend on Israel’s level of morbidity, Razvozov said.

Read More:COVID: Tourism plan, shortening of isolation to be discussed at cabinet

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