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Report: Officials suspect Israelis flying overseas presented forged virus tests

Border authorities at Ben Gurion Airport notice dozens of similar forms signed by doctor from same Jerusalem clinic; police to probe

Travelers head to the departure area at Ben Gurion Airport on August 17, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Travelers head to the departure area at Ben Gurion Airport on August 17, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Border officials suspect that some travelers have presented them with forged papers showing they tested negative for the coronavirus, a report said Wednesday. Such tests are required in order to gain entry to three countries that are allowing Israelis into their territory without entering quarantine.

Inspectors from the Population Immigration and Border Authority at Ben Gurion Airport became suspicious when they noticed that dozens of test confirmation forms they were shown all came from the same Jerusalem medical clinic, many of them signed off by the same doctor, the Ynet website reported Wednesday.

“Some of the forms had things on them that appeared to us to be a bit strange, such as that fact that on many forms the text was the same,” an airport source told the website.

The source said police would examine the forms in question. It was not clear if a doctor really had signed off on all the forms or if one virus test form had been duplicated, the report said.

The three countries letting Israelis in are Croatia, Blugaria and Greece. The latter is only allowing 600 Israelis in a week, who are only permitted to visit four locations: Thessaloniki, Athens, Corfu and Crete. The Israelis must also take a virus test when they land and must stay in their hotel rooms until the test results come back.

At the beginning of the week Greece, Croatia and Bulgaria began allowing Israelis to enter their territories without automatic isolation, but with some other restrictions.

In Bulgaria Israelis need to present a negative coronavirus test from within the previous 72 hours upon arrival, and in Croatia from within the past 48 hours. Neither country requires a test upon landing, nor any isolation.

Israelis are already able to travel to several other countries but must self-quarantine upon arrival, usually for two weeks.

On Sunday the Health Ministry signed off on an order exempting Israelis returning from 20 countries with low COVID-19 rates from a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The so-called “green” countries are: Canada, Austria, Estonia, Italy, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Georgia, Germany, Denmark, Hong Kong, Hungary, Jordan, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Slovenia, Finland, Cyprus and Croatia.

The Health Ministry did not publicize how it made the decision on which countries to classify as “green.”

Air travel has been at a trickle for months, with Israel more or less closed to foreign nationals since March, and nearly all countries barring Israelis from visiting.

Israel has one of the highest morbidity rates in the world per capita and many countries currently ban Israeli visitors. As of Wednesday night there have been 97,969 confirmed virus cases in Israel, and 779 have died. There were 24,098 active patients, of which 398 were in a serious condition. So far 73,092 have recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

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