Coronavirus: Health Ministry asks Israelis to avoid traveling abroad

Also the number of serious patients continue to drop, reaching 166. For several days in January and February they were as many as 1,200.

A MAGEN DAVID ADOM medical worker tests people for coronavirus at a mobile site in Jerusalem last week. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
A MAGEN DAVID ADOM medical worker tests people for coronavirus at a mobile site in Jerusalem last week.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
The Health Ministry has recommended that all Israelis, including those vaccinated or recovered, avoid unnecessary trips abroad to prevent new variants from entering the country.
“The situation in the world is such that we highly recommend not to travel abroad if you do not have to,” the ministry’s Director-General Chezy Levy said in a press briefing on Thursday. “At the same time, the Health Ministry identified seven countries where there is a very high morbidity and a good chance of getting infected or catching variants. We recommend as much as possible not to travel to these countries. Just don’t go.”
The seven countries where the morbidity rate is especially high are: India, Ukraine, Brazil, Ethiopia, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey.
The warning said that even people who are vaccinated might be at risk of getting infected with new variants.
In the past few days, health authorities have become increasingly concerned over a new Indian variant.
“I hope that within a few weeks this concern will no longer be relevant, as we can prove that the vaccine is effective against this variant,” said  coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash, speaking to Army Radio on Wednesday.
He said that the issue is being studied, but no results are available yet.
In the briefing, Levy said that foreign workers and students from India will be required to quarantine in a state-run facility.
Meanwhile, only 0.2% of the coronavirus tests processed on Wednesday returned positive, the ministry said. The figure marks the lowest positive rate in almost a year – since May 15, 2020 – when Israel was just exiting its first lockdown, and when many believed that the country had managed to defeat the virus.
Only 5,000 tests were administered in 24 hours i n May 2020, compared with some 47,000 tests performed on Wednesday.
For the past week, the number of new daily cases has not exceeded 150, with 111 recorded on Wednesday, and 2,054 virus carriers.
The reproduction rate or ‘R’ remains constant around 0.7, showing that the infections are steadily declining.
The number of serious patients also continues to drop,  reaching 166. There were as many as 1,200 a day for several days in January and February.
As of Thursday morning, only one person was reported to have succumbed to the disease on Wednesday. While sometimes it takes longer than one day for corona-related deaths to be reported to the ministry, if the number was confirmed it would mark the lowest toll since June.
Israel reached 4.99 million people vaccinated with two doses as of Thursday, while 5.37 million have received at least one shot.
Levy said that an individual booster will be probably administered about a year after the first two shots. He also reaffirmed that Israel will start vaccinating children only after the health authorities in the US and in Europe give their approval.