Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90
The first commercial passenger flight from Abu Dhabi to Israel arrived at the Ben Gurion International Airport on April 6, 2021.

Israel’s Health Ministry is looking into issuing permits for tourists to enter Israel, Reshet Bet radio reported on Friday. The ministry says that entry permits will probably be given to organized tourist groups initially, specifically the Birthright project.

A senior health ministry official told Kan 11 News that the preference for groups has to do with the perception that it would be easier to check and monitor the arriving groups, including the medical condition of their participants and the routes they will take inside Israel.

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The health ministry’s latest coronavirus report suggests Israel may be on the verge of acquiring some level of herd immunity, with 5,304,870 out of about 9 million residents having received their first dose of the vaccine and 4,911,808 the second. It is estimated that as soon as the vaccine is cleared for children under age 16, their vaccination could be carried out in a matter of days. There are an estimated 2.6 million children under 16 living in Israel.

Only 209 new verified patients were identified on Thursday, out of 42,982 test results. As of Friday morning, there are 276 Corona patients in serious condition, including 155 on artificial respirators. A total of 6,280 died in Israel from the pandemic.

Corona Czar Prof. Nachman Ash told Reshet Bet radion that tourists coming to Israel will be required to undergo serological tests at Ben Gurion Airport to check for the presence of antibodies.

The health ministry senior official told Kan 11 that before deciding on the entry of tourists into the country, it is necessary to clarify the issue of recognizing vaccines given in other countries. According to him, the recognition will probably have to be mutual between these countries and Israel. He added that this will involve issues of political sensitivity, among other things, regarding the United Arab Emirates, which administers the Chinese vaccine that’s not recognized in Israel, as well as countries where the Russian vaccine is given.

Recognition by the FDA or the EU health authorities of these vaccines may help advance a solution to this problem.

Currently, Israel does not recognize immunization and recovery certificates that have not been issued in the county. This is because the health ministry is concerned about forged vaccination certificates that have already been presented by Israelis returning from abroad. The only solution at this point is a serological test for the vaccinated individuals who arrived in Israel, combined with the grant of an exemption from quarantine in the event of a positive test.

The option of performing serological tests at Ben Gurion Airport is also being examined.

Corona Czar Ash confirmed the above plans and told Reshet Bet radio: “Because of the varied morbidity in the world and the fear of mutations, we must take this step carefully and responsibly – that is regarding those who were vaccinated and recovered in their country of origin before their arrival, as well as once they’re here. We are considering doing this in groups to control where they go around and how they are being conducted. We will discuss this next week with the Ministry of Tourism and determine when it will happen, I guess it will take a few weeks.”

Regarding Israel’s recognition of vaccination certificates from foreign countries, Prof, As said, “We are currently approving all the vaccines but under the restriction of performing a serological test in Israel to see that you have the antibodies.”

“As long as there are agreements with countries, we can rely on the certificates of immunization that we recognize mutually. It would be much simpler to approve vaccines that have been approved by the FDA and the Europeans, but we are also testing other vaccines.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.