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Health Ministry set to add Argentina to travel ban list as virus cases soar

All returnees — even those vaccinated or recovered — would need to quarantine if nation added to 7 countries on list: India, Mexico, S. Africa, Brazil, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Turkey

Travelers at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Travelers at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The Health Ministry is planning to add Argentina to the list of countries to which travel is banned over fears of importing COVID-19 variants into Israel, it was announced Friday.

The ministry said that barring any improvement in the rates of morbidity in the South American nation, travel would be prohibited to Argentina without a special permit.

In addition, even those vaccinated or recovered from the virus would be required to enter 10 days of isolation with two negative PCR tests, or 14 days with one test taken upon arrival back in Israel.

The Health Ministry said that Argentina would be added to the travel ban list from May 17 if there was no improvement in the situation.

A man sits in a corridor as he waits for news of his wife who is suspected of having COVID-19 at the Dr. Norberto Raul Piacentini Hospital in Lomas de Zamora, Argentina, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Daily COVID deaths in the South American nation topped 660 on Wednesday, the highest level seen in the nation in the pandemic so far, while hospital occupancy rates stood at 90 percent.

Additionally, the Health Ministry said it warns against travel to the “region around India,” Seychelles, Georgia, Moldova, the Maldives, the Philippines, France, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Russia and Thailand due to virus rates in those places.

The announcement came days after new regulations banning travel by Israelis to seven countries went into effect on Monday.

Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 8, 2021. (Flash90)

Travel is not permitted to India, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Ukraine, Ethiopia, or Turkey without special permission, although Israelis may take connecting flights through those countries provided the layover is shorter than 12 hours.

Special permission may be provided for those with humanitarian reasons, athletes or emissaries for national institutions.

With its aggressive vaccination drive, Israel has seen a sharp drop in daily mortality and infection rates since the pandemic peaked in late January.

Late last month, Israel passed the milestone of 5 million people receiving both vaccine shots.

According to Health Ministry data, there were 85 people whose condition was defined as serious as of Friday morning, with 54 of them on ventilators.

There were 48 new coronavirus cases diagnosed in the country on Thursday, taking the total number since the pandemic began to 838,850, with 1,089 active cases.

According to the ministry, 31,547 coronavirus tests were conducted Thursday, with 0.2 percent returning positive.

With no overnight deaths, the toll stood at 6,374.

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