Israelis to be exempted from quarantine a week after getting 2nd vaccine dose

Virus czar says authorities are finalizing distribution of ‘green passports’ to those deemed immune from coronavirus

Medical workers test people at a drive-through site to collect samples for coronavirus testing in the northern city of Safed on January 4, 2021 (David Cohen/Flash90)
Medical workers test people at a drive-through site to collect samples for coronavirus testing in the northern city of Safed on January 4, 2021 (David Cohen/Flash90)

People who receive the second and final coronavirus vaccine dose will be exempt from any need for quarantine, starting a week after getting the shot, government coronavirus czar Nachman Ash said Sunday.

In a press briefing, Ash added that restrictions will be eased for those who have been fully vaccinated as part of the so-called “green passport” program, details of which will be given in the coming days. The document is expected to provide access to cultural and other events currently unavailable to the public. Ash said eligible citizens will be able to get the certificate via an online system that is currently undergoing final testing.

Ash repeated comments he made Sunday morning, saying he would likely recommend extending the current lockdown restrictions beyond the January 21 expiration date, citing still-rising infections. But he expressed hope that the trend is starting to reverse.

“Over the past days we can see immense strain on the health care system,” Ash said. “There are about 1,200 serious patients, COVID-19 wards are 85 percent full, and hospitals are scaling back non-urgent procedures. The strain is expected to continue for several more days until we see a drop in infections.

Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash visits the Ziv hospital in Safed, December 24, 2020 (David Cohen/Flash90)

“We are following the numbers of confirmed patients and are cautiously hoping that the slowdown trend from the weekend will continue. The direction is encouraging,” he said, but warned: “The odds that we will recommend extending the lockdown are high.”

Updated COVID-19 figures by the Health Ministry on Sunday afternoon showed 5,011 new cases were confirmed Saturday, with 7.2 percent of the 63,278 tests coming back positive. The positivity rate was the lowest in a week, though the lower-than-normal testing levels over the weekend meant it did not necessarily indicate a trend.

The number of active cases stood at 82,877, and the total cases confirmed since the pandemic began was 546,087.

The number of serious patients was at an all-time high of 1,237, including 332 in critical condition and 276 on ventilators.

The death toll was at 3,979.

The data showed that more than a quarter million Israelis have gotten the second dose of the vaccine: 255,260. The number of those who received the first shot was 2,067,389.

A Magen David Adom medical worker tests a woman at a mobile site to collect samples in Jerusalem on December 16, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Meanwhile, following criticism over Israel’s deal with Pfizer to give the company details about the country’s vaccination campaign in exchange for early and widespread use of the firm’s inoculation, the Health Ministry published the full agreement on its website. The decision came to quell rumors that the privacy of those who get immunized was being violated.

The ministry said Pfizer agreed to the publication of the document, parts of which had been redacted for “commercial and other reasons.”

The cabinet is set to convene Tuesday to decide whether to extend the tightened coronavirus lockdown, which began a week ago and is set to expire Thursday night.

Channel 12 reported Saturday that while the Health Ministry is pushing to extend the tightened lockdown measures, opposition from Blue and White and ultra-Orthodox parties could see them expire Thursday as scheduled.

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