COVID-19: Israel mulling requiring PCR tests before flights - report

The Health Ministry reported on Wednesday morning that two cases of a previously unknown coronavirus variant were discovered.

 Clalit Health Services Medical worker conduct tests  on PCR samples to determine if they are positive for covid-19 at a Clalit Health Services laboratory in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Clalit Health Services Medical worker conduct tests on PCR samples to determine if they are positive for covid-19 at a Clalit Health Services laboratory in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Health Ministry is considering making anyone returning to Israel via plane take a PCR test before boarding, in light of an ongoing spike in new COVID-19 cases, Maariv reported sources from the Health Ministry as saying on Sunday.

The requirement to pass a PCR test before boarding expired on March 1. Since then people entering Israel are only tested after landing at Ben Gurion Airport

Hundreds of COVID-positive people are entering the country every day, the sources said. Some 3% of people entering from Italy and the UAE have tested positive for the virus, and 2% of people entering from France, Maariv reported.

Some 10,604 people had already tested positive on Sunday by 9:30 p.m., according to the most recent Health Ministry update. There are 50,763 active cases in Israel, 327 of whom are in serious condition, 165 in critical condition, 146 connected to ventilators and 21 connected to ECMO machines.

21.13% of tests came back positive on Saturday, and the R (reproduction) rate stood at 1.1, meaning that each patient infected 1.1 other patients on average.

An El Al plane in Ben Gurion Airport (credit: REUTERS)An El Al plane in Ben Gurion Airport (credit: REUTERS)

The Health Ministry reported on Wednesday morning that two cases of a previously unknown coronavirus variant were discovered during the routine PCR testing performed at Ben-Gurion airport. Those infected with it were reported to be experiencing mild symptoms including fever, headaches and muscle pain, and did not require additional medical attention.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a meeting on Wednesday afternoon in light of the rising coronavirus infection rates in certain areas of the world including China and Hong Kong in particular.

No new restrictions were introduced, but Bennett stressed that the requirement to wear masks in closed public spaces will continue to be mandated and will be reviewed again closer to the Passover holiday.