CDC adds Israel to highest-risk countries for catching Covid-19

Agency advises Americans to avoid travel to Israel unless absolutely necessary

Graig Graziosi
Monday 09 August 2021 22:04
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The US Centers for Disease Control is advising Americans to stop traveling to Israel after giving the country its highest risk warning for Covid-19.

On Monday, the CDC raised Israel’s Covid-19 risk for travellers to level 4, its highest risk level.

The CDC recommends that US travellers avoid visiting Israel, and if they must go, to ensure they are fully vaccinated before they leave the US.

However, the agency noted that due to the high concentration of cases in Israel that even fully vaccinated individuals may be at risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19 variants.

The recommendation extends for all of Israel as well as the West Bank and Gaza. The agency recommends masking and social distancing for anyone who must visit the country.

Coronavirus cases have been steadily climbing in Israel due to the Delta variant.

Israel's Health Ministry released data on Monday revealing that the number of seriously-ill patients in the country rose to 360, with overall cases growing by 3,372. The rate of positive cases in the country is still significantly lower than it was during the last major wave of cases. Currently, the positive test rate is only 3.87 per cent. That rate was 9 per cent during the last major surge of the virus.

The country's Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said on Monday that the country would only consider a lock down as a “last resort” and that the government was doing all it could to prevent another quarantine.

“The coronavirus isn't going to disappear any time soon,” Mr Horowitz said. “We are laying down the infrastructure that will enable us to live with the coronavirus in the long term.”

Haaretz reported that Israel was reinstating some restrictions to help stop the virus' spread. Unlike the US, Israel requires a vaccine passport – called The Green Pass – for anyone who wants to attend cultural and sporting events, to stay at hotels, or to visit gyms, restaurants, movie theatres, cafes or convention centres. The only exception is for those visiting houses of worship.

The country also requires masking for any outdoor event with more than 100 attendees.

Israel is also cracking down on foreign visitors arriving in the country, requiring mandatory isolation periods for travellers from all but 10 countries, even if they are vaccinated.

US visitors will have to adhere to the extended isolation period.

The CDC also added warnings against Americans traveling to France, Thailand, Iceland and several other countries on Monday.

The US State Department, which maintains its own list of travel advisories, added France and Iceland to its list of Level 4 – Very High risk list of countries.

France's government recently extended requirements that citizens provide proof of vaccination when visiting cafes, restaurants and for inter-city travel on Monday, though the decision was protested by many over the weekend.

The health passport is intended to curb the coronavirus' spread throughout the country. Though hospitalisations are low when compared to other times during the pandemic, the country's government is concerned that the Delta variant may cause a surge in illnesses similar to what is happening in the US.

Iceland has similarly seen the spread of the Delta variant, though that country's vaccination rate is much higher than many other countries, with almost 90 per cent of the Icelandic population having taken the shot. The country has enacted its own domestic and border restrictions to prevent further spread throughout its borders.

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