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Vaccinated Israelis from high-risk countries required to isolate

CM 29/04/2021 3

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Israelis who return from countries with high levels of coronavirus infection will need to enter isolation even if they are vaccinated or recovered, after 41 cases of the Indian variant, including four people who were already vaccinated, were detected in the country.
A Health Ministry directive signed by the Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy and disseminated Thursday afternoon, will come into effect on Monday, provided that it is approved by the Knesset.
The list of countries includes India, South Africa, Turkey, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Mexico and Brazil.
Travelers who spend less than 12 hours at the airport in one of these countries will be exempt from the mandatory quarantine.
Earlier in the day, the ministry announced that some 24 Indian variant carriers were identified among people who returned from abroad, while another 17 individuals were infected in the country; not all of the local infections have been linked to the travelers.
Most of the cases have entered Israel from India, but some have entered via other countries. All of the people who arrived with the variant had boarded their airplanes with proof that they were negative for COVID-19.
In total, some 160 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, despite being vaccinated or recovered, Health Ministry data showed.

Also, among those infected with the Indian variant are children at five schools, the Health Ministry said. The schools are located in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, Pardes Hannah, Holon and Ashdod.
The Ma’ale Adumim municipality sent a message to the community informing them of the infections. The message said that these were two isolated cases of infection that occurred about two weeks ago, and no further active morbidity has been recorded since.
Head of Public Services Sharon Alroy-Preis said Thursday afternoon that raid testing must be carried out in the schools to ensure that there is no further spread of infection but that she encountered resistance from the schools.
“If we are not able to test as required, we will have to consider closing the school or part of it,” Alroy-Preis warned in a letter to the director-general of the Education Ministry. “Already yesterday we turned to the professionals in your office in order to quickly coordinate the testing for schools this morning. Unfortunately, we encountered difficulties in cooperation.”
She wrote that the combination of a potentially dangerous variant, the fact that there have been recent outbreaks and the knowledge that 70% of children who become infected are asymptomatic requires rapid testing to make sure there is no hidden illness.
In general, infection remains low in schools. There were 484 cases of coronavirus among students and 23 among faculty, the Education Ministry reported Thursday afternoon.
There is fear that the variant might be at least partially vaccine resistant, although the Health Ministry stressed there is still no clear information regarding the Indian variant’s implications for vaccinated or recovered people.
Prof. Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told the Post that he believes it is too early to be too alarmed by the variant.
He said that the Pfizer vaccine is likely effective against the variant at least to some extent “because the key mutations in the spike protein are known mutations that appear in other variants, and we know that the vaccines are effective against them. So, we cannot be certain, but I think that it is quite likely that the vaccines will work on the Indian variant.”
In addition to the Indian variant, the ministry discovered eight new cases of the South African variant, seven New York, two California, one of a new British variant and one from Saint Petersburg.
The Health Ministry said it wanted to remind the public to avoid unnecessary travel abroad.
In the meantime, the epidemiological situation in Israel continues to be encouraging.
For the past month, the reproduction rate – or ‘R’ – which measures how many people each virus carrier infects on average – has remained stable at around 0.8, which indicates that the pandemic keeps on receding.
Some 100 new cases were detected on Wednesday, with 0.3% of the 37,000 tests returning a positive result, according to a Thursday morning update by the ministry. The numbers are in line with previous days.
Moreover, serious patients and active cases further dropped to 118 and 1,570 – at the peak of the pandemic they stood respectively at 1,200 and over 75,000.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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