Photo Credit: Flash 90
Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 8, 2021.

Pharmacies in Israel have begun marketing rapid antigen tests and home tests for COVID-19, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday (July 27).

Rapid tests – which includes home tests – are used to detect the coronavirus. They are based on technology that does not require the test to be transported to a laboratory and allows an answer to be given within 15 to 30 minutes from the moment of sampling.

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Although the rapid tests are less sensitive than the standard PCR tests, they allow fast and good enough detection in cases where the viral load is high, the ministry said.

However: Antigen tests are not valid for use at border crossings or flights; only PCR test results are accepted by border and aviation personnel in Israel.

What does someone do if their quick check comes back positive?
The Health Ministry said there are several steps that need to be taken if an antigen test comes back positive:

  • Insulation should be entered immediately.
  • Perform a PCR test as soon as possible, to verify the result.
  • If the PCR result is negative, then isolation can occur (the PCR result outweighs the antigen).
  • If a PCR test has not been performed, the isolation period must be completed – like someone who is positive in a PCR test.

Starting this week, pharmacies are marketing rapid test kits. “These tests are intended for public use in accordance with the guidelines,” the Health Ministry underlined. “A negative result in these tests does not serve as sufficient documentation for border crossings, aviation travel and/or entry to “pass only” events. They are intended for personal use only.”

Rapid testing stations that will submit registered samples to the Ministry of Health are currently in the process of being set up at sites throughout the country.

“A negative result in these tests for those who are not vaccinated or recovering, allows entry for 24 hours to places that operate with a ‘Happy Pass’ or a Green Pass, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health,” ministry spokesperson Anat Danieli Lev added.

The positivity rate of newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise. For the first time since March, the number of new cases in one day has topped 2,000, the ministry said.

Coronavirus by the Numbers
The ministry reported Tuesday morning that 2,112 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed from the 92,707 tests carried out on Monday.

Also on Tuesday, there were 138 patients listed in serious and critical condition, including 26 people requiring ventilators to survive.

Up to the point, 6,461 Israelis have lost their lives to the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

A total 5,767,009 Israelis have received at least one of the two shots required for full COVID-19 immunization. Of those, 5,321,379 have been fully vaccinated, having received both shots of vaccine.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.