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CDC warns against travel to Israel amid surge in Delta variant cases

US health agency lists the country, alongside the West Bank and Gaza, as having a ‘very high level’ of COVID-19; urges even vaccinated Americans to avoid those areas

Travelers are seen wearing face masks at Ben Gurion International Airport on August 5, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/ FLASH90)
Travelers are seen wearing face masks at Ben Gurion International Airport on August 5, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/ FLASH90)

The US Centers for Disease Control claimed Monday that there is a “very high level” of coronavirus infection in Israel, when considering it as a single unified entity with the West Bank and Gaza, and urged Americans to avoid travel to all three areas.

The CDC in a travel advisory listed the risk of COVID-19 in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza at its highest level — level 4.

It urged even fully vaccinated Americans to avoid those areas.

“Because of the current situation in Israel, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the CDC said.

Data released by Israel’s Health Ministry last month showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine appeared to largely prevent hospitalization and serious cases, but is significantly less effective against preventing the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

There were 34,103 active coronavirus cases in Israel as of Monday night, the highest number since March, which has largely been blamed on the ultra-contagious Delta variant.

An Israeli woman over 60 receives a third coronavirus vaccine shot at a Clalit health clinic in Jerusalem on August 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The ministry said that, out of Israel’s population of some 9.3 million, over 5.8 million have received at least one vaccine dose, nearly 5.4 million have gotten two, and nearly 550,000 have been administered a third booster shot.

The Health Ministry figures showed a continued rise in serious coronavirus cases, with 84 new patients on Sunday and 66 by Monday evening, bringing the total current number to 373.

Israel’s virus death toll was at 6,559, with 14 fatalities recorded on Sunday.

The figures showed 3,418 people were diagnosed with the virus on Sunday at a positive test rate of 3.9 percent, with an additional 5,149 cases identified by Monday evening, bringing the total number of cases in Israel since the start of the pandemic to 906,405.

A health care worker takes a nasal swab sample from a Palestinian woman at a COVID-19 testing center, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on June 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

In the West Bank, active cases were far lower, at just 1,900 as of Sunday, according to data compiled by the worldometers website. Two hundred and ninety-six new cases were recorded on Sunday, the site said.

But virus testing in the Palestinian regions is significantly limited.

According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, 107 new virus cases were recorded on Sunday, out of just 635 tests.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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