Following the decision to shut down the Ben-Gurion Airport until further notice as an effort to combat the spread of new infectiousness coronavirus variants in the country, cancer patients may now miss life-saving treatment, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.
While the outline originally approved by the government indicated that some exceptions would be allowed, including flights for medical evacuation, some have still found themselves stranded, either in Israel or abroad. And in some cases, the implications might be life-threatening.
A representative from the Yad Ezer non-profit organization in Vienna, which accompanies Israeli cancer patients who arrive to Austria to receive life-saving treatment, told Israel Hayom that he knows of several patients who were scheduled to arrive in Austria and now have no way of coming. "Any delay to treatment can cause the tumor to spread and lead to a secondary growth, and then, the chances of survival are very low," he said, adding that if someone misses their appointment, it is given to another patient. "Hospitals in Austria don't just keep empty beds lying around," he said.
On the other hand, there are currently Israelis who traveled to Austria to receive treatment and are now stranded there, not knowing when they will be able to return to the routine medical treatment they require at home. On top of that, most of these patients were only allowed to travel accompanied by one person, due to previous travel restrictions, leaving many of them separated from their immediate families.
There are Israeli cancer patients between the ages of 3 and 70, according to Israel Hayom, who are currently stranded in Austria, not knowing when they might return home.
And while there have been talks about sending daily rescue flights to Frankfurt, Germany, which still operates international flights, the decision has not yet been implemented.
Another concern is that certain patients who require frequent treatment will have difficulties reaching Frankfurt.
As it currently stands, Israel remains sealed off, with the airport's closure expected to continue for the foreseeable future. On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to extend the closure for another two weeks at the least, as it remains unclear when said rescue flights would finally be able to operate.On Friday it was reported that a flight scheduled to air-lift 170 Israelis from Frankfurt to Israel on Sunday will not be able to depart as the government failed to decide on regulations concerning the issue of rescue flights.