On Sunday evening, the Ministry of Transportation announced that travelers coming from abroad will not be able to use public transportation services from the airport, as Israel detected a second case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The new transportation rules went into effect from midnight on Sunday, when arrivals coming to the country from overseas will be required to stay in quarantine for at least three days. From 6 p.m. on Sunday, all those who are coming to Israel from ‘red’ countries that have high rates of infection will be required to quarantine in state-run hotels, whereas others will be permitted to go home and stay isolated.
The ministry said that they would only be able to exit the airport through a private vehicle when collected by relatives, or will have to take a taxi. Nachman Ash, the Director-General of the Health Ministry, said that the purpose was to prevent them from taking public transportation because they would have to quarantine first. However, those who are departing the country will be allowed to take a taxi, bus or train to go to the airport. According to the ministry, they were going to slash long-term parking tickets by 50% in order to encourage people heading abroad to come to the airport in a private vehicle.
The Transportation Ministry further detailed that people traveling domestically from Eilat to Ben Gurion Airport will go to the Tel Aviv train station via a shuttle. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry confirmed that they had found a second case of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Israel. The ministry said that the woman had come to the country recently from South Africa. She is a 32-year-old Israeli citizen and has received three doses of the vaccine. According to media reports, she had gone for a vacation with her child and husband, both of whom have tested negative for the disease.
A number of others who are suspected of being infected with the new and mutated strain are still waiting for test results. On Thursday, South African scientists had revealed that the new COVID-19 variant had been discovered and it had an unusual number of mutations that had resulted in a surge of infections there. There has been a tenfold increase in the number of daily infections in the hardest-hit country in Africa since the beginning of the month. Israel’s Health Ministry said on Sunday that there had been a fall in the basic reproduction number in the country.
The numbers indicated that the R number had fallen slightly to 1.05. It indicates the number of people that are infected by each patient of the coronavirus on average. If the number is higher than 1, it indicates that the virus is expanding. On Sunday evening, the data published showed that more than 170 people had tested positive for the virus in Israel on Saturday from the total 35,000 tests that were conducted, which is a positivity rate of 0.51%. There were 125 people who were in serious condition because of the virus.