Israel ‘closes skies’ to air journey as COVID variants discovered | Aviation Information
Flights are banned for a week as the government tries to curb the spread of variants and protect the vaccination campaign.
Israel on Sunday announced a week-long ban on most inbound and outbound flights to slow the spread of new variants of the novel coronavirus.
The measure will begin at midnight (22:00 GMT) Monday through Tuesday and will remain in effect until the following Sunday, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
Exceptions are made for cargo and fire service flights, as well as travel to medical treatment, funerals and legal proceedings.
A panel of officials from the Ministry of Health and the Interior can issue exemptions “for humanitarian or personal needs,” the statement said.
The decision came with the country in its third national coronavirus lockdown, launched in late December and extended to the end of the month on Tuesday due to a surge in deaths from COVID-19.
On Sunday before, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his government’s intention to close the airport after variants of the corona virus were discovered among the rising numbers.
“We close the sky hermetically, with rare exceptions, to prevent virus mutations from entering and to ensure that we are making rapid progress with our vaccination campaign,” he said before a cabinet meeting.
Swab samples have already been taken from arriving passengers at Tel Aviv airport. Now Israel has banned inbound and outbound flights for a week and stepped up efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and its new variants [Jack Guez/AFP]The Department of Health later announced it had identified cases of a coronavirus variant originating in Los Angeles.
“In the central virus laboratory of the Ministry of Health, a variant from Los Angeles was located using a sequencing process,” said a statement from the Ministry.
“The person who confirmed this variant infected four other people.”
Variants from South Africa and Great Britain have also been found in Israel.
More than 2.5 million of Israel’s nine million residents have been vaccinated since the vaccinations were launched last month, according to the Ministry of Health.
On Saturday, Israel began vaccinating teenagers aged 16-18 who are required to take their high school final exams.
Adi Cohen, 18, told AFP news agency on Sunday that she had “no choice” but to get the shot.
“I have my final exams in a couple of weeks so I think I have to take them,” she said from a clinic in Jerusalem.
For 17-year-old Shai Ohaion, he will be able to be close to his parents again when he gets the push.
“I came to have myself vaccinated so that I would no longer have social distance at home. I can’t be close to my parents because they are vulnerable which makes the situation difficult, ”he said.
“I have come to support these efforts to put an end to the coronavirus.”