Israel is expected to push out again to allow individual tourists to enter the country due to concerns about rising COVID-19 morbidity, according to a television report Saturday.
The postponement will see general tourism return from August to September, according to Channel 13 news.
Israel has allowed some travel groups into the country in recent months, but not tourists traveling independently. It had originally planned to reopen to the latter in May, but the health ministry’s recommendations pushed the plans to June, then August, and that date is now expected to be moved back to September.
The network said the ministry is set to recommend the latest delay to the cabinet, although no official decision has yet been made.
The Ministry of Health is also expected to recommend children start the next school year by studying in socially distant “capsules”
According to data from the Ministry of Health, about 35% of 12-15 year olds have received a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine so far. A further 11% have been designated to recover from the virus.
According to Channel 12, 200,000 12-15-year-olds have received the first dose of the vaccine since Saturday, including 15,000 over the weekend. Three of the country’s largest HMOs said 50 percent of that age group received the first shot, according to the network.
Saturday was the deadline for teens to get their first dose of the vaccine with the country’s current batch, as the existing stockpile of vaccines expires in late July. Children aged 12-15 who did not receive their first dose before Saturday cannot receive their second dose three weeks later and will be forced to wait until the next Pfizer batch arrives.
The next shipment of Pfizer shots was expected to arrive in September. However, Channel 12 reported on Saturday that Israel is in talks with Pfizer in hopes of getting the next delivery in August. The outgoing Director General of the Ministry of Health, Chezy Levy, confirmed to Kan News that officials were hoping to speed up the next birth so that the vaccination of teenagers could continue.
In the meantime, people over the age of 16 will be able to be vaccinated with Moderna’s vaccine, which has not yet been approved for use in the age group under 16 years.
On Saturday night, the Ministry of Health published updated COVID-19 figures showing that the number of seriously ill patients had risen to 43.
About 700 news stories were diagnosed over the weekend.
The number of active cases was 4,064, and the number of deaths since the start of the pandemic increased by one to 6,435.
Of the 84,553 tests conducted on Friday, 0.7% returned positive, similar to the frequency in recent days, but higher than last month’s positivity rate, which fluctuated almost zero in some days.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the country experienced the first deaths attributed to the virus in over two weeks.
The resurgence of the virus due to the Delta variant has become a major issue for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s new government and comes less than two months after the number of cases decreased due to mass vaccination, allowing Israel to lift the most restrictions and reopen public life.
On Friday, the Ministry of Health announced that all travelers, including those vaccinated and those who recovered after COVID-19, would be required to isolate themselves for up to 24 hours after arriving in the country starting late next week.
Meanwhile, those returning from 16 countries considered to have high levels of infection will be required to fully isolate themselves for 14 days or 10 days with two negative tests according to the ministry’s updated guidelines, which will enter into force on July 16th.
Israelis who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19 had until recently been largely exempt from quarantine when they returned to the country.
The Ministry of Health on Friday also updated the list of countries with high infection rates, where Israelis are excluded. The countries that are not allowed for Israelis are Uzbekistan, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Russia.
The re-emergence of coronavirus in Israel is largely attributed to the spread of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India and is thought to be twice as contagious as the original COVID strain.