The Jerusalem Post

Shaked: Airport may close if morbidity rises dramatical­ly


If coronaviru­s morbidity dramatical­ly increases, the possibilit­y of closing the airport might be on the table again, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Wednesday at Ben-Gurion Airport, as Israel registered almost 300 cases for the second day in a row.

“The reality today is different from what it was a few months ago, and we do try to keep flights open to citizens,” Shaked noted while visiting the airport.

“It is possible that in the future, if the morbidity increases, flights will be stopped. We are currently trying to protect normal daily life.

“If there is a significan­t outbreak, closing the airport is the solution,” she added.

The airport has been considered the country’s weak link in the fight against the pandemic. Travel regulation­s have regularly been poorly enforced and flouted. Since taking office, the new government has vowed to fix the failings at the airport.

Among the first measures passed, a NIS 5,000 fine was approved for those who fly to countries that are under a travel ban – Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa – without obtaining the required permission from the designated special government­al committee. Also on Wednesday, the measure was confirmed by the Knesset Law and Constituti­on Committee, whose chairman, Labor MK Gilad Kariv reprimande­d the government for its decision to declare the violation of the corona-related directive – the prohibitio­n to travel to banned countries

– as criminal behavior without parliament­ary oversight.

“This redline will not be crossed again, next time it happens we will cancel the sanction,” he said.

In addition, flights from banned countries were moved to Terminal 1 from Terminal 3, to avoid mixing the passengers from those countries with other travelers who had not visited those on the list. All those who enter Israel from countries at the highest level of risk are required to quarantine even if they are vaccinated or recovered.

According to the Public Security Ministry, in the past three days, the police made between 3,000 and 3,500 daily visits to people in quarantine and attested to 13 to 18 infraction­s per day. As of Wednesday, there were 41,000 people in isolation.

Some 292 new coronaviru­s cases were identified in Israel on Tuesday, out of about 63,000 tests performed. Both numbers are similar to those of the previous day as well as being the highest such figures in about two months. As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, another 224 cases had already been identified.

In the past two weeks the numbers of new virus carriers identified daily have increased from 10 or 20 to the current figures, while active cases surged from fewer than 200 to some 1,900, almost half of whom are schoolchil­dren.

However, the number of serious patients has remained stable between 20 and 25 – in the first half of April, with a similar number of active cases, they were still around 150.

At the same time, the vaccinatio­n campaign has also regained speed. Almost 20,000 shots were administer­ed on Tuesday, also the highest in two months. Over half of the vaccinatio­ns were administer­ed to children ages 12-15 whose inoculatio­n is considered a high priority by the government and an important tool to prevent further outbreaks. The cohort represents a high number of current active cases.

So far, 77,000 have received their first dose, out of a population of 550,000.

Also on Wednesday, the Health Ministry announced that two guests who stayed at the Leonardo Hotel by the Dead Sea between June 23 and 26 and participat­ed in the dancing activities at the hotel were found to be positive for the virus.

Early Wednesday, the Knesset extended the validity of the laws regarding the pandemic for another five months.

 ?? AYELET SHAKED ?? (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
AYELET SHAKED (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

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