Health Official: Nearly 80% of Verified COVID Patients Among Returning Travelers Are Vaccinated​

The COVID-19 testing area at the Ben Gurion International Airport. (Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chaired by MK Efrat Rayten Marom (Labor) approved on Monday the Public Health Ordinance, which expands the list of countries requiring full quarantine for all returnees, including travelers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who have recovered from the disease. Georgia, Turkey, Cyprus and Britain are among the 32 countries on the current list. The ordinance went into effect on July 23, but it required the committee’s approval to remain valid.

Dr. Ofra Havkin, Deputy Director of Public Health Services in the Ministry of Health, presented to the committee data pertaining to returning travelers who have recently been confirmed as being infected with Covid-19. “There is a dramatic increase in the amount of confirmed cases among those returning from abroad, and nearly 80 percent of them are vaccinated,” she said. “This marks a clear change of the trend we were familiar with, and the figures clearly indicate that those who return from countries with high morbidity rates, and in which there is exposure to different variants, are at a higher risk of infection.

“While it is true that a vaccinated corona patient will, in most cases, experience mild illness, he/she can spread new variants and infect people with a weakened immune system,” Dr. Havkin stressed. “It is a well-known fact that it can sometimes take a few days before the virus can be detected in a test, so new confirmed cases can be identified during each additional day of quarantine. The figures show that additional patients are detected even on the seventh day of isolation.”

After the ordinance was approved, Committee Chair MK Rayten Marom said, “I was pleased to receive the data and the considerations behind the [decision to] expand the ordinance. We represent the public that is not always familiar with the figures and considerations, and may be harmed by decisions of this sort, which may at times appear arbitrary to this public. Therefore, the more data, information and simple and detailed explanations we present, the better things we be for all of us.”

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