Ash announces ‘green passport’ for those who had coronavirus

Commissioner says virus to be around at least another year, will not hesitate to lock down as needed.

Prof. Nachman Ash delivers his first formal address as coronavirus commissioner on November 26, 2020. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Prof. Nachman Ash delivers his first formal address as coronavirus commissioner on November 26, 2020.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel will soon roll out a “green passport” program that will enable anyone who has had coronavirus to travel more freely abroad and throughout the country, according to Prof. Nachman Ash.
The new coronavirus commissioner delivered his first public address on Thursday evening, during which he informed the public that millions of serological antibody tests would be delivered to the various health funds and that people who think they might have had the virus can go and be checked. If they test positive for antibodies, they will receive the green passport. In addition, anyone who was diagnosed with the virus and recovered can obtain the passport.
The exact details of what will come with the passport are still in development, Ash said, although one can surmise that the program could keep hundreds of thousands and potential more than a million Israelis out of isolation. 
So far, 332,937 Israelis have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Health Ministry. A nationwide serological survey conducted by the ministry from July to September found that 5.5% of Israelis - around 487,000 Israelis - had the virus, a number that has only increased since then. In areas of high infection, such as Bnei Brak, serological studies have shown that as much as 9% of the community was infected. 
The commissioner also issued a stern warning to the public: “I will not hesitate in the future to recommend a national closure if required.”
He said that a third lockdown is already “definitely on the agenda.”
“A third lockdown depends on the data and depends on us,” Ash said.
On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported some 1,070 new cases in the last day – the most in more than a month. There were 294 people in serious condition, including 112 who were intubated. The death toll stood at 2,827.
Ash said that “the data reflects our behavior, which at the moment is very worrisome. The reproduction rate is higher than one. Also, the number of daily patients is higher than desired,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are irresponsible people, who pose a danger to all of us – those who gather, who do not wear masks, [and] who hold mass events.”
On Friday, several dozen malls, marketplaces and museums are slated to open as part of a pilot program agreed upon by the Health Ministry and other members of the governments. And on Sunday, more students are expected to return to their classrooms.
“There is no room for complacency,” Ash said.
Finally, regarding the race for a vaccine, the commissioner said that his working assumption is that the mass population will only be vaccinated at best by mid-2021 and in the worst case by the end of next year. As such, Israel will be living in the shadow of coronavirus for another year.
“We have more difficult days ahead of us,” he concluded. “Some people think coronavirus is behind us. I see things differently. It’s not going to be easy.”