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COVID from Uman: 152 infected passengers identified, in police custody

CM 10/09/2021

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Severe measures, including full criminal proceedings, could be taken against individuals who return to the country from Uman with a forged coronavirus test certificate, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said late Thursday night after reports that dozens of people who were positive for the virus entered Israel from Ukraine.
Indeed, on Friday 117 people who returned from Uman were summoned for questioning, police said. 
“The Israeli government takes seriously the entry of people in Israel with forged documents who could deliberately spread the disease,” the prime minister said in a statement shared through his office. “This constitutes an irresponsible act of harm to public peace and we will continue to take harsh actions against violators of the law.”

According to the Population and Immigration Authority, already some 152 returning travelers tested positive for the virus on entry and were transferred to Police custody.
The coronavirus seems to have spread rapidly among the 25,000 Israelis who traveled to Uman for Rosh Hashanah to celebrate the holiday at the graveside of the founder of the Breslov hasidic group. Some 14.3% of 2,000 returning pilgrims from Uman who were screened by Magen David Adom tested positive for COVID-19, the organization told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Videos on social media showed dozens of hassidim waiting for their COVID tests in crowded lines. None were wearing masks. 

 Israeli police delegation to Uman, Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah and High Holidays, September 2021 (credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) Israeli police delegation to Uman, Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah and High Holidays, September 2021 (credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

A rumor circulated that the MDA tests were turning out positive at an abnormally high rate and some also questioned the reliability of the tests after receiving different results in different testing stations, adding to the general confusion, KAN noted.
The Population Authority said Thursday that those who had tested positive for the coronavirus had been infected in Ukraine, and added that it had received information showing that several dozen infected pilgrims allegedly boarded flights to Israel with fraudulent documentation.
MDA sent a team of more than a hundred medics and paramedics to Uman at the request of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Health and Foreign ministries, and had been working in cooperation with the Ukrainian Red Cross and the Israeli embassy since Wednesday night, immediately following the end of Rosh Hashanah. Travelers who underwent a rapid test were meant to be provided with a certificate from MDA that they would bring with them on their return flight, the organization said.
However, by Thursday night, it became apparent that many were traveling without proper testing and documentation.
The Prime Minister’s Office said that all infected people who entered Israel fraudulently would be summoned for questioning by the Israel Police, and that a full criminal proceeding would be opened against the offenders in which all relevant charges would be examined:  fraud, forgery and intentional spread of illness.
If a verified person arrived at the airport with fake documentation, the person would be evacuated to his home in an ambulance or other official vehicle at his own expense and then required to be isolated for 10 days under police enforcement, the PMO said.  If the person cannot isolate at home, then he would be taken to a state-run coronavirus hotel. 
Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash told the Post that it is still too early to decide whether or not the Uman outline for safe travel went well this year.
“We are hearing that there are not a small number of infected people, those that tested positive over there, and we expect more people to be diagnosed here, too,” Ash said.
He said the real test is whether everyone who is required to enter isolation will be in isolation and, “of course, anyone who tests positive, must stay in quarantine. This is our test today, tomorrow and in the coming days.”
The director-general called on everyone returning from Ukraine to follow the guidelines.
“We are going to do all we can to enforce the rules, but people also need to adhere to the rules themselves,” he said.
Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Salman Zarka traveled to Uman earlier this week to confirm that the agreed upon outline was followed. In a video shared from the ground, Zarka was asked why he went to the site. He responded: “I will go to every place in which there are Israelis to protect their health.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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