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Israel flies in diplomats from UK for vaccinations; envoys elsewhere to follow

Staff will make trip again in three weeks for second dose

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Illustrative: A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection in Jerusalem, on January 28, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Illustrative: A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection in Jerusalem, on January 28, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Foreign Ministry was flying 11 of its diplomats and support staff from the embassy in London to Israel to receive their COVID-19 vaccines.

The group were due to land at Ben Gurion Airport late Thursday night, and will receive their vaccinations through their HMOs like other Israelis, the ministry said.

They will then quarantine for two days in a hotel in Israel before flying back to the UK to continue working. The diplomats will make the trip again in three weeks in order to receive their second doses.

A spokesman for the  Foreign Ministry told the Times of Israel that it was “logistically impossible” to fly the vaccines to the UK, and would not have saved money in any case.

He said Israeli diplomats in other countries are expected to make similar trips for their vaccinations in the near future, but the details are not yet finalized.

Health Ministry data Thursday showed that 3,344,629 people have had the first dose of the vaccine in Israel, of whom 1,953,026 have also had the second shot.

Figures from the ministry released Thursday showed there were 7,433 cases confirmed the day before, with the positive test rate at 8.9%.

Police officers guard the entrance to the Israeli Embassy in London (image capture Google Street Views)
File: Police officers guard the entrance to the Israeli Embassy in London (image capture: Google Street View)

Despite some four weeks of lockdown and a world-leading vaccination program that has already given at least the first dose of the two-dose vaccine to over a third of its population, Israel has seen daily virus caseloads remain high; the number of seriously ill patients stuck at over a thousand, burdening hospitals; and the positive test rate barely dipping.

Since the start of the outbreak last year, 674,453 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Israel and 4,993 have died of COVID-19 as of Thursday evening. There are 79,752 active cases, including 1,098 patients in serious condition, of whom 412 are considered critical.

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