In a cabinet meeting held on Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett disclosed that Israel is working on developing a system to conduct genetic scanning for people arriving in the country, as this will help in better identifying travelers who are infected with the coronavirus. Bennett informed ministers that the system will eventually be implemented at the main international terminus in the country, Ben Gurion Airport. He said that this will make the country a radar for the virus. No further details have been provided about the system itself and how it would work. These comments of the meeting were leaked to the media.
Bennett expressed his support for Meirav Cohen, the Social Equality Minister, who had previously warned that the next COVID variant would come into the country through Ben Gurion. He said that the proposed genetic testing would prove to be helpful in preventing this from happening. This development was made as the cabinet was reviewing different aspects of the campaign for confronting the recent wave of COVID-19 cases that have been fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. This variant has mostly been attributed to travelers who were infected and didn’t quarantine properly upon their arrival in the country.
Vaccination against COVID-19 has become the government’s central strategy for curbing the spread of the virus. This includes offering a third booster shot of the vaccine to all those above the age of 12. Bennett said at the meeting that they no longer had any patience for people who don’t want to get vaccinated. Nitzan Horowitz, the Health Minister, said that COVID-19 is a matter for people who are not vaccinated because not doing so will just lead to death. So far, of the total 9.3 million citizens of Israel, 6,039,846 have received at least one shot of the vaccine.
The Health Ministry also disclosed that 5,542,582 people have received two doses whereas three shots have been given to 2,841,383 people. Nachman Shai, the Diaspora Affairs Minister said during the meeting that all civil servants, including school teachers, should also get vaccinated. Currently, teachers are permitted to continue working if they are not vaccinated, but they have to get tested every few days. They are required to pay for these tests themselves. Ministers have given their support for a plan under which quarantine will only be needed for infected schoolchildren, while their classmates will only have to take the virus test.
Those who test negative will then be permitted to return to class immediately. Currently, all students in a class have to isolate if a case is found. It has been less than two weeks since the school year started and already, 150,000 students have been forced to quarantine because of infection, or because they were exposed to someone infected. More than half of the recent new cases reported in the country are schoolchildren. The Education Minister said that they had to find a solution for quarantining because most who end up in quarantines usually test negative. Therefore, it may be better to isolate only those who test positive.