Israel to expand rapid testing sites in preparation for ‘green passports’

The green passport would allow those who have been vaccinated with two jabs for at least seven days.

Rapid coronavirus tests used in Israel (photo credit: SOFIA ISRAEL)
Rapid coronavirus tests used in Israel
(photo credit: SOFIA ISRAEL)
 Preparations are underway to establish many more rapid testing stations throughout the county, according to a release by Quidel, the company that owns the Sofia rapid testing devices. 
The complexes would enable cultural and other events to open as infection declines and more people are vaccinated, paving the way for Israel’s green passport program.
There were more than 7,000 people diagnosed with coronavirus on Friday, the Health Ministry said Saturday night. However, only 8.8% of people screened tested positive, down from 8.9% the day before and more than 9% most of the week prior.
For the first time last week, Israel’s reproduction rate dropped below one.
There have been 2,492,196 people who have received their first coronavirus vaccine.
The green passport would allow those who have been vaccinated with two jabs for at least seven days, people who have recovered from coronavirus and those who have a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours to participate in cultural and sporting events, as well as to visit museums and perhaps even gyms, hotels, restaurants, pools and other activities over time.
The green passport application has been designed, but the final rules and regulations surrounding the passport, nor when specifically, it will be released, have not yet been released. 
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he planned to open the arts and culture industry in about two weeks after meeting with representatives from the arena. The announcement came as a shock to Health Ministry officials, though they did not rule such an option out. 
In the first stage, attendees would still have to wear masks and social distance. 
So far, those receiving vaccines are only eligible for what is known as a vaccination certificate that enables them to stay out of isolation if they come in contact with a sick person. The certificate is administered one week after the second jab.
The move comes at the same time as the United States prepares to open additional rapid testing stations, too, though Sofia has not been named as the testing provider. 
A White House web page dedicated to the coronavirus plan developed by President Joe Biden explains that the government will “ensure all Americans have access to regular, reliable and free testing.” 
One of the methods will be to invest in next-generation testing, including at home tests and instant tests, “so we can scale up our testing capacity by orders of magnitude.”
The Sofia rapid test used in Israel is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It is an antigen-based test, different from the standard swab-based PCR test currently performed in most settings. Some health officials have questioned its accuracy, although the tests were being used when Israel ran its “Green Island” program that allowed Israeli travelers to vacation in Eilat and the resort of the Dead Sea.