Report: Thousands Returning from Abroad Had Covid

A technician collects nasal swab samples for COVID-19 at the coronavirus lab in Ben-Gurion Airport. (Flash90)

An internal report circulated at high echelons in the Health Ministry said that thousands of Israelis who returned to the country between late October and early December were diagnosed with COVID-19 soon after their arrival, according to Channel 13 on Thursday evening.

The report was submitted to the coronavirus cabinet.

In recent days, the government disbanded its policy of sending passengers in to state quarantine facilities, which had been poorly organized for the task, and have sent them into home quarantine instead.

Among those tested upon arrival from abroad, 10 percent of returnees from Turkey tested positive, as did 17% of those from Bulgaria, 3% from the UAE, 8% from Russia, and 2% from the United States.

Meanwhile, as new infections climbed over 5,000 on Thursday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein expressed his dissatisfaction over the way the current lockdown has been implemented.

“I’m not aware of any lockdown here,” said Edelstein in an interview on Reshet B Radio. “Four days ago, a number of provisions were put in motion. We approached the Cabinet with requests for a full lockdown and got a number of tightened measures, which were watered down to a few limitations once the [Knesset] committee had dealt with it,” he said.

At Ben Gurion airport, the Airports Authority started vaccinating employees on Thursday.

The 400 airport workers were not originally scheduled to get shots at this stage, but the Health Ministry acceded to their union’s demands on the grounds that they are essential workers who have contact with the public.

“We sought to get vaccinated since last week and we finally got the approval on Wednesday,” airport workers’ union head Pinchas Idan told Ynet. “[The employees] meet hundreds of Israelis every day who come from abroad, this puts them at the forefront.”

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