Israel Establishing a New COVID Testing Compound at Ben-Gurion Airport

With the Health Ministry predicting that new daily COVID cases will triple in 10 days amid the spread of the delta variant, Israel is taking steps to up its testing capacity at Ben-Gurion Airport

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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The new, under-construction coronavirus testing compound at Ben-Gurion International Airport
The new, under-construction coronavirus testing compound at Ben-Gurion International AirportCredit: Moti Shafir
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Israel stepped up its bid to halt a major vector of coronavirus transmission on Friday by beginning to set up a new testing compound at Ben-Gurion International Airport, which will accommodate up to 2,500 tests an hour.

The initiative by the Defense and Transportation Ministries is expected to be up and running early next week, after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett identified the international gateway as "a huge national vulnerability" on Sunday.

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Health Ministry data from Friday morning indicates that 295 new COVID diagnoses were made on Thursday – 12 fewer than the day before. There are currently 50 hospitalized patients, with 26 of them in serious condition, three fewer than on Wednesday, and 16 of them on ventilators.

The positive test rate, which reflects the number of positive tests relative to all tests performed, was 0.42 percent on Thursday, representing a slight decrease from Wednesday. During the third wave of the coronavirus, this rate averaged about nine percent.

The Health Ministry estimated on Thursday that the daily number of new COVID diagnoses will climb to 600 next week and in 10 days rise further to 1,000. The ministry expects to conduct 100,000 coronavirus tests per day on July 11.

With respect to the coronavirus delta variant, Pfizer has said its vaccine is 90 percent protective against illness and 95 percent protective against severe illness.

On Wednesday, some 19,000 people were vaccinated. Some 14 percent of teens aged 12 to 15, 87 percent of those ages 50 and up, and 83 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 49 have been vaccinated.

Pardes Hannah-Karkur became an “orange” city on Thursday, in accordance with the Health Ministry’s traffic light plan that classifies localities based on infection rates. Tel Aviv’s District 2, comprised of northern neighborhood of Ramat Hahayal, turned yellow. Modi’in, Herzliya and Ramle remain orange, while Ramat Hasharon, Kibbutz Ashdod Yaakov Meuhad and Moshav Aviel are yellow. That said, ever since the coronavirus restrictions were lifted last month, the stoplight colors are of no real significance for most people and simply convey the infection rates in the cities.

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