Omicron fallout: Israeli students returning to school from Hanukah holidays should test for Covid

Written By: Jodie Cohen WION
Jerusalem Published: Dec 06, 2021, 04:31 PM(IST)

Travellers at a testing area at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

As the festivities come to a close, children are preparing to go back to school on Tuesday.  But the government has said they will need to get tested if they are to be allowed back in.

As the Hanukah holiday comes to an end and students in Israel head back to school, young children are being required to get tested for the coronavirus, before being allowed back to their studies.

For more than a week, children and families in Israel have been celebrating Hanukah, the festival of lights.

But dimming the celebrations somewhat has been Omicron, the latest variant of COVID-19.

As the festivities come to a close, children are preparing to go back to school on Tuesday. 

But the government has said they will need to get tested if they are to be allowed back in.

Since Omicron was discovered in Israel, the government has again closed its borders to tourists, tightened quarantine rules for returning Israelis, encouraged kids to get vaccinated, and temporarily approved phone tracking of suspected carriers, which has now been suspended.

Also read: Israel halts virus phone tracker amid privacy concerns

In this latest move, preschoolers and children in grades 1-6 will need to present a negative rapid antigen test to return to school. 

And following a similar announcement in the UK, health officials in Israel are also said to be considering a 4th vaccine for immunocompromised people.

Israel has reported 4 more Omicron infections, bringing its total to 11 known cases. Of these, 7 were vaccinated. The new cases include a man who came into contact with an infected person who had recently travelled from South Africa. This is the first known case of Omicron being transmitted within Israel.

Also read: Two-dose vaccines insufficient, booster dose must for protection against Covid: Israel’s health expert

Public healthcare experts have been saying that Omicron appears to be potentially more transmissible but less lethal than other variants.

However, Health Ministry chief, Nachman Ash, said it remains unclear how the strain will hold up against vaccines. And coronavirus czar, Salman Zarka, warned it will take another week to know the full impact of Omicron.

Also read: Two fully vaccinated Israeli doctors get infected with Omicron variant

 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged caution in his weekly cabinet meeting. “Every day, we are reassessing the situation – on the basis of the data we know at the time – regarding moves to ease restrictions or make them more stringent. Everything is according to the data….Some people are saying: ‘But the situation is so good in the country, why are you being so stringent?’ The reason that the situation is good in the country is that we are taking quick and precise action. We know to relax the restrictions when necessary and when to tighten them,” he said.


With thousands of Israelis now expected to fly in from abroad, time will tell how this will impact Omicron cases in the country going forward.

Watch: Israel tightens travel restrictions over new COVID-19 variant

 


 

Read in App