1,400 New COVID Cases in Israel, 150 From Abroad

YERUSHALAYIM -
Healthcare workers take test samples of Israelis in a drive-through complex to check if they have been infected with the coronavirus in Yerushalayim, on Tuesday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel on Wednesday reported that 1,400 people tested positive for COVID-19 a day earlier and 150 of them, which represents a little over 10%, came from abroad.

The Health Ministry said that after more than 80,038 tests had been conducted, the infection rate now stands at 1.76%.

The ministry said at least 63 people are in serious condition, of whom 12 are ventilated. The official death toll now stands at 6,452.

Some 130 of the newly diagnosed arrived from countries that are not considered to be high-risk and travelers from those states are not subject to mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

At least 35 of the newly diagnosed returned from Greece, 15 from the United States, 15 from Cyprus, 12 from Turkey, 10 from Georgia, five from the United Kingdom, four from Italy, three from Germany, three from Bulgaria and two each from Peru, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Tanzania, Ukraine and Egypt.

Only 14 of the newly infected came back from blacklisted countries with high virus infection rates. Seven of them arrived from Uzbekistan, four from Russia and one from Brazil.

Of the countries with moderate infection rates, eight new arrivals were diagnosed with COVID – seven from Spain and one from Kyrgyzstan.

In the meantime, the “happy pass” mandate came into effect on Wednesday morning. The mandate obliges anyone entering events attended by more than 100 people to present a Green Pass or a negative coronavirus test at the entrance.

Health Ministry Director General Prof. Nachman Ash said on Wednesday that he supports bringing back stricter health measures to battle the surge of coronavirus, including the Green Pass mandate, capsule learning at schools and mandatory quarantine for all returning travelers from abroad.

Prof. Ash said the “happy pass” order that came into effect on Wednesday morning is not enough to curb the spread of the Delta variant.

“My professional stance is to take immediate steps. We think it is not right to wait, because it will be harder to stop when we reach larger numbers [of active cases].”

“We are working very closely with the Education Ministry to formulate a plan that includes both coronavirus tests and a plan to prepare for situations, where there are more areas with high infection rates, where there is no choice but to reduce class sizes to prevent the spread.”

Prof. Ash said Health Ministry representatives will recommend to the government to bring back the Green Pass mandate during a coronavirus cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Green Pass is a certificate issued to those who’ve been vaccinated with both vaccine shots or recovered from COVID. Before Israel lifted most of its health restrictions in May, Green Pass had to be presented at entrances to many public facilities.

“We will present our recommendation for the return of the Green Pass. I estimate that there will also be a discussion about the airport. There are some options that should ultimately reduce entry [of travelers] from Ben Gurion Airport.”

He added the Health Ministry is currently mulling whether to recommend mandatory isolation for all arrivals from abroad or at least expanding the list of countries that are considered “high risk.”

“It is an option that we are discussing, and there is an option to expand the circle of countries that require isolation. We will formulate the draft [on airports] during the day.”