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Health Ministry official warns mass travel to UAE a virus ‘ticking time bomb’

As thousands of Israelis flood Ben-Gurion Airport while much of the country is shuttered, a senior Health Ministry official warns that the mass pilgrimage to Israel’s new friend, the United Arab Emirates, could be a coronavirus “ticking time bomb.”

“Dubai is our new Turkey,” the unnamed official is quoted as saying by the Ynet news site, referring to the large number of Israelis who returned from Turkey while carrying the virus, contributing to its spread in the country.

The official is referring to Israel’s decision to keep the UAE on its list of “green” countries with low infection rates, reportedly to avoid a diplomatic rift just months after establishing formal ties, while morbidity is in fact on the rise there.

The Health Ministry expects that 224 COVID-19 patients will return from the UAE to Israel in December, Ynet reports, more than any other country (next are Turkey with an estimated 86 and the United States with 66).

Some 10,000 Israelis are currently in Dubai, the report says.

Anger is brewing meanwhile on social media, where footage was published today of long lines and people not observing social distancing at the airport, while businesses across the country with far less infection potential remain closed.

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