The Health Ministry is considering requesting that the last three countries listed on the “red” or banned countries list be removed, The Jerusalem Post confirmed, as students returned to school and serious cases declined.
Currently, there are three countries on the banned list – Turkey, Brazil and Bulgaria. The infection rate in these countries has been on the decline, as in most parts of the world.
The Health Ministry said it would release an official statement when a final decision is made.
Israelis are not allowed to travel to red countries without special permission. Anyone who returns to Israel from these lands must enter isolation for a minimum of seven days.
The report was first released by Israel Hayom.
Meanwhile, Israeli children returned to school on Thursday after the Sukkot holiday filled with excitement and armed with the results of their rapid home antigen tests that were taken the night before.
“Once again, parents in Israel in all sectors taught their children... a lesson in remarkable responsibility and social commitment,” said Yigal Slovik, director-general of the Education Ministry. “Despite doubts… the parents of students in preschool and elementary schools proved for the second time that they can be trusted.”
Some 1.4 million antigen tests were picked up from Magen David Adom before the holiday ended and more than 90% of parents tested their children for coronavirus before sending them back to school as part of what the director-general called “Operation Antigen 2.”
Some 600,000 parents reported tests through the digital reporting system provided by the Health Ministry and the rest submitted paper reporting forms, Slovik said.
Only 0.1% of students tested positive, he added. By not sending these children to school, it prevented the closure of about 1,000 classrooms and the isolation of as many as 30,000 students.
Testing children for COVID was required for entry into school on Thursday. Parents who did not screen their kids were asked not to send them.
Parents were requested to screen their kids before school started on September 1 as well. Some 8,000 cases of the virus had been identified.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has charged the Education Ministry with finding ways to help keep children out of isolation beyond the Green Class program, which next week will begin being evaluated in another 300 classrooms. Among the ideas is to arm parents with around two dozen testing kits and to ask them to screen their kids anytime they experience COVID symptoms.
The country continues to experience a decline in infection.
Some 3,591 people were diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday, the Health Ministry reported Thursday morning – only 3.61% of people screened showed a positive result.
An estimated 619 people were in serious condition, including 211 who were intubated. Around 70% of the serious cases were unvaccinated and 20% were vaccinated with only one dose. This was the lowest number in September.
A week ago, there were more than 700 serious cases. The death rate stood at 7,761meaning nearly 30 people were reported dead from COVID-19 between the morning and evening reports. Some 7,734 were reported dead by the Health Ministry on Thursday morning.
The vaccination campaign does appear to be on the uptick. Health Ministry data showed that close to 60,000 Israelis got their third shots on Wednesday, the highest number since September 9. Another 36,000 were given the booster on Thursday. It is likely, therefore, that the decrease in daily vaccinations over the past couple of weeks was due to the Jewish holidays, which ended Tuesday night. Close to 3.4 million Israelis have received a third shot.
Close to 10,000 Israelis received their first dose on Wednesday, the highest number in September.
Finally, Bennett met Thursday with Health Ministry officials ahead of the cabinet meeting that is supposed to take place on Sunday. The Prime Minister’s Office said that at the meeting “the joint work arrangements were sharpened, and various issues were discussed.
“The prime minister and health minister emphasized in the conversation that they attached great importance to the position of the professionals, even when it differs from the position of the decision-makers,” the statement said.