Incoming passengers recovered from COVID to no longer need a PCR test - The Jerusalem Post

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Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 within the last three months will no longer be required to take a PCR test before boarding a flight to Israel, the Health Ministry announced just before the start of Sukkot.

Until now, recoverers had to submit an application form to the Exceptions Committee in advance in order to be exempt from taking a PCR test. Now, this request will not be necessary, according to a decision made by the Inter-Ministerial Exceptions Committee late Sunday night.

To qualify, travelers must have tested positive between 11 days and three months prior. They must present their positive test result in addition to filling out the incoming passenger statement, which is required for anyone entering the country.

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Positive test results from an antigen or other test do not qualify, but a recovery certificate from Israel that is not based on a PCR test and was issued within the last three months will suffice.

The committee said the decision was already conveyed to the airlines and goes into effect immediately.

This does not change the rules for entering the country, of course.

 AID GENOMICS)PCR tests processed by AID Genomics (credit: AID GENOMICS)

To date, Israel is not open to individual tourists but only to first-degree relatives of people living in Israel and select groups of others – all with special approval. Small, pre-approved tourist groups are also allowed to visit.

All Israelis are free to enter the country.

The Health Ministry also updated the list of red, orange and yellow countries on Monday. Beginning September 27, Mexico will no longer be a red or banned country.

Only three red countries remain: Bulgaria, Brazil and Turkey. To travel to red countries, people must obtain special approval from the Exceptions Committee.

The list of yellow countries was also released: Austria, Bahrain, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Gabon, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, Taiwan and Uruguay.

All other countries are considered orange.

As of September 3, people who have received a third booster shot – or within the last six months have been vaccinated with two doses of an approved vaccine, recovered or have received one shot after recovering – are no longer required to be isolated for seven to 14 days on return. Instead, they can take a PCR test at the airport and be released once a negative result is obtained or 24 hours has passed – whichever comes first.

People who are not vaccinated or recovered must be isolated for seven to 14 days when they enter the country regardless of where they came from.

Israel has asked the European Union and the United States to only consider Israelis as vaccinated if they meet the Israeli criteria, N12 reported Tuesday night. This would mean that anyone over the age of 12 who was vaccinated with two shots more than six months ago and has not gotten the booster shot would not be considered vaccinated abroad.

The news station also mentioned that the daily rate of people being administered the third shot has declined by around 20% per day, since the US Food and Drug Administration ruled last week that there was not yet enough evidence to give third shots to all people over the age of 16 but only to those over 65. It is also likely that fewer people are turning out because of the Sukkot holiday, the station said.

That’s bad news for Israel, where the infection rate has remained high.

About 40% of people who tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday were from the Arab population, according to data released Monday by the Health Ministry. At the same time, about 40% of all new cases were children under the age of 11.

The two data points likely go hand-in-hand since, unlike Jewish children who started school on September 1 but have largely been at home for the Jewish holidays, Arab children have continued learning straight through.

“There is an increase we are seeing in recent days,” said Ayman Saif, head of the Arab desk for the Health Ministry in an interview with Ynet. “Our education system is completely open and the students are studying normally this month, and most of the morbidity is in the schools.”

He said that “quite a few classrooms” are closed and children are in isolation, which has led to an increase in testing, and logically more hidden or asymptomatic cases of coronavirus have been found.

In general, the Health Ministry reported that 6,456 new cases were diagnosed on Sunday, with around 5% of the 126,000 people screened testing positive. This is one of the lowest positivity rates since mid-August. On Monday night, it reported 8,691 - also around 5% of the more than 172,000 people who were screened.

There were 710 people classified as being in serious condition, including 187 who were ventilated as of Monday night. The number of serious cases has largely remained stable at around 700.

The majority of hospitalized and serious cases tend to be among older and/or unvaccinated people. Nearly 70% of serious cases were unvaccinated, according to the ministry’s latest data. At the same time, 80% of those hospitalized in serious condition in the last month were over the age of 50.

Of the 129 people who died in the last month, more than 80 were unvaccinated.

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