COVID-19 in Israel: PCR testing system at airport set to end, no longer required

The decision to end COVID-19 testing at the airport was made in light of the decreased spread of infection and decreased morbidity.

 PASSENGERS CHECK IN at Ben-Gurion Airport. We all need to be on the lookout for phishing or fake emails or messages to trick people into falling for a scam. (photo credit: FLASH90)
PASSENGERS CHECK IN at Ben-Gurion Airport. We all need to be on the lookout for phishing or fake emails or messages to trick people into falling for a scam.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Starting on May 20, incoming travelers will no longer be required to undergo PCR tests upon landing at Ben-Gurion Airport, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

The decision to end COVID-19 testing at the airport was made in light of the decreased spread of infection and decreased morbidity and following discussions among Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and officials from the Health Ministry and the Airports Authority.

Nevertheless, they formulated a plan that would allow for the quick implementation of either a full or partial COVID-19 testing system at the airport should the need arise.

In a statement shared via social media, Horowitz said the decision to end airport PCR testing continued the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 policy under his leadership.

“We provide all the tools to protect public health, but where there is no need and it is not necessary, we will not impose restrictions on the public,” he said.

 Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz,  December 30, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, December 30, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

The Health Ministry also said starting on Tuesday, foreign citizens flying into Israel will no longer be required to perform a PCR test ahead of their flights and can instead take a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of departure.

Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Gilad Kariv (Labor) welcomed the cancellation of the PCR tests.

“In the current state of the coronavirus, one should return to a full routine while focusing on protecting specific at-risk populations,” he said Sunday on Twitter.

An estimated 1,700 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Saturday, the Health Ministry reported Sunday. There are currently 16,337 active cases of coronavirus in Israel, including 132 patients in serious condition, with 53 intubated and six connected to ECMO machines.

There was a 5.02% positive return rate for the 35,344 PCR and antigen tests taken on Saturday, and the R-rate currently was 0.81.

Since the start of the pandemic, 10,741 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Israel. There has been a consistent decline in morbidity in recent weeks. Six new deaths were recorded over the past seven days, down 71% compared with the previous week. No coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded since May 4.

The spread of infection has also greatly decreased over the last few weeks. Beit El is the only location that is still classified as red under the government’s coronavirus “traffic light” system, with 27 positive coronavirus cases for every 10,000 people.

Large cities, including Tel Aviv (18 positive cases per 10,000 people) and Haifa (21.2 per 10,000), were classified as yellow, along with Ashdod, Rishon Lezion, Eilat and numerous other localities.

As of Sunday morning, Jerusalem was classified as green, with 8.3 positive cases per 10,000 people. Other green areas included Bnei Brak (1.5 per 10,000), Beit Shemesh (4.2 per 10,000) and Umm el-Fahm (1.8 per 10,000).