Israel's COVID Czar Warns: Travel Abroad Endangers Families Amid Delta Spread

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Ben Gurion International Airport, July 18, 2021
Ben Gurion International Airport, July 18, 2021Credit: Hadas Parush

Israel's coronavirus czar Nachman Ash urged Israelis to refrain from travel abroad on Monday, warning that the delta variant, a more contagious strain of COVID-19, was spreading across the globe.

"Now is not the time to take unnecessary flights," Ash said, adding: "Those who go abroad are putting themselves and their families at risk."

The Health Ministry is set to add 11 nations to its list of countries requiring mandatory isolation. "The change will go into effect on Thursday and will last two weeks," Ash said in his statement, noting that deliberations concerning the list are held on a weekly basis. Israelis returning from abroad might find themselves required to go into quarantine unexpectedly, Ash warned.

According to the Health Ministry and pending government approval, Britain, Cyprus, Turkey, Georgia, Uganda, Myanmar, Fiji, Panama, Cambodia, Kenya and Liberia will be added to a list of countries that require a mandatory one-week quarantine for returning travelers.

Arrivals from the United Arab Emirates, the Seychelles, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan and Tunisia are already subject to this requirement, which was shortened last week by the coronavirus cabinet from ten to seven days.

Passengers from all other countries, including those are who vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, are required to quarantine until the receipt of a negative PCR test or for 24-hours, whichever comes first.

Travelers who break quarantine are subject to a fine of 5,000 shekels (around $1,500). 

On Sunday, Israel saw 836 new coronavirus cases with 66 COVID patients in serious condition, according to Health Ministry data. The rate of positive COVID tests stands at 1.71 percent, a slight increase from Saturday's data where 1.46 percent of tests returned a positive result. 

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