Health Ministry Officials Call to Halt Flights From India

YERUSHALAYIM -
Medical technicians line up to test passengers for COVID-19 at Ben Gurion Airport. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Health Ministry officials told Channel 13 on Monday that direct flights from India should be temporarily halted, as the country battles a major coronavirus surge that has seen it set new global records for daily infections.

“We need to stop the direct flights from India to Israel for at least a few weeks until the situation stabilizes,” the officials were quoted as saying.

The officials said that Israel has not yet halted these flights because of students and foreign workers coming from there.

“The skies won’t fall if the direct flights stop for a few weeks. The space for error is likely to be too big,” they noted.

Israeli health officials have expressed concerns about the Indian variant of COVID-19, fearing that vaccines may be less effective against it. So far, the strain has been detected in only a handful of infected Israelis.

However, having held internal discussions on the matter, the ministry refused to adopt any of the recommendations.

“Stopping flights from India is completely unnecessary,” said one senior official at the ministry. “After all, people can still arrive via connecting flights. It is better to have direct flights that will be easier for us to monitor,” he said.