Israel has launched a pilot program to track returning passengers using electronic bracelets that will notify authorities should they violate a mandatory isolation period.
This measure would exempt Israelis returning home from abroad from being sent to a state-run quarantine facility. So far, incoming passengers have been forced to stay at state-run quarantine facilities for up to two weeks to make sure they are virus-free before they can move around freely.
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The pilot program began on Monday with 100 tracking systems available at Ben-Gurion Airport, where traffic has dropped dramatically due to restrictions meant to reduce the risk of COVID-19 strains entering the country.
The passengers onboard an Arkia flight from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv on Monday were the first to take part in the controversial pilot initiated by the Health Ministry.
Tamar May, 21 from Tzur Hadassah, southwest of Jerusalem, was the first passenger who chose to use the new system – which includes an electronic bracelet, a smartphone and a wall-mounted tracker – and entered self-isolate at home.
May, who is studying in London, had contracted the coronavirus a month ago. Israel does not acknowledge medical certificates issued by foreign doctors and therefore May is not defined as having recovered from the virus and must enter isolation.
May's only way to prove she had recovered from COVID is to undergo a serological test in Israel, whose results usually take a few days to come in.
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Upon receiving the bracelet, May and the other passengers gave their personal details and a deposit of 1,500 shekels ($455) in case the bracelet is not returned to the SuperCom, the company behind the technology. They were also requested to provide the address where they intend to stay during their home-isolation.
"We said we want it," said 44-year-old Alejandro Quil, who wore the slim, lightweight and waterproof bracelet on his wrist. "They gave us the service, it's great for us so we won't have to go to a hotel, so we will can do the quarantine at home as it should be."
"There is potential for the pilot to quickly expand into a project consisting of thousands of units for more wide scale use to assist in quarantine compliance in Israel," SuperCom said.