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COVID from Uman: 156 returnees test positive, says Health Ministry

CM 10/09/2021 1

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Some 156 hassidim returning from Uman have tested positive for coronavirus, the Health Ministry said Friday morning – more than four times the number of positive cases brought back to Israel from all other countries around the world.
Moreover, there were reportedly at least two airborne evacuations of individuals in serious condition from COVID-19 who were airlifted from Uman back to Israel.
The majority of the people who caught the virus were unvaccinated, according to the ministry. In addition, a high percentage of them entered the country with forged coronavirus tests.

Severe measures, including full criminal proceedings, could be taken against individuals who return to Israel from Uman with forged coronavirus test certificates, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said late Thursday night in a statement released through the Prime Minister’s Office.
“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.”
By Friday mid-morning, some 117 individuals had been summoned for investigation for boarding their flights with fake negative results, Israel Police said. On arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, they were met by police officers and representatives of the Population and Immigration Authority and transferred by ambulances at their own expense to their homes. Afterward, they were summoned for questioning but will only appear 10 days after their return or when recovered. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison.

 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)

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 hassidic 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.
MDA had 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.
MK Itamar Ben-Gvir charged that Bennett was using “selective and brutal enforcement” against those returning from Uman.
“As if there are no violations on the Temple Mount, no violations at various festivals around the country, no inbound flights from all over the world,” Ben-Gvir said Friday. “As if … only the ultra-Orthodox are to blame. This is what discrimination looks like.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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