On Saturday, coronavirus testing facilities in Israel had been swamped because multitudes of people had come to get checked for the infection. All across Israel, people reported that they had to stand in long lines and wait for hours at testing facilities that were under the operation of the Home Front Command of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). A number of sites that were operated by health maintenance organizations had been closed for the weekend. A lot of people said that they had had to wait for two hours in order to get tested at locations in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Petah Tikva. Others reported that they had to wait at a testing facility for three hours located in Modi’in.
Some told the media that they had decided to get tested privately and pay for it instead of having to wait for so long. The Target-Medcare company had been doing the tests for coronavirus in Israel at the facilities of the Home Front Command and it said that Saturday had been the busiest day for them so far in the country. This was because of the ongoing fifth wave of the coronavirus in Israel that is largely driven by the highly-infectious Omicron variant. The firm said that they had broken their test records in recent months within a few hours over the weekend.
This was primarily because the HMO’s testing complexes had been closed over the weekend and this resulted in an overload at the company’s complexes. There have been numerous reports in recent days about people having to wait for long at testing facilities due to the swift increase in infections across the country. The data from the Health Ministry indicated that on Friday alone, about 150,000 tests were conducted in Israel and another 85,000 tests had been done by 6 pm on Saturday. Amongst the tests that were conducted on Friday, about 5,466 had been positive. This brought the positivity rate to about 3.96% and marked a rising trend in the rate in recent weeks.
Testing facilities had had to deal with a similar rush back in September because of Rosh Hashanah as well as the day after Yom Kippur because a number of testing facilities had been shut down for the weekend. Meanwhile, in other Israel news, the coronavirus czar in the country, Salman Zarka said that they need to do everything possible for avoiding a lockdown in the country. But, he did add that it wasn’t certain if some restrictions would prove to be effective against the rising trend of infections. Zarka went on to say that the major outbreak in infections showed that a previous decision taken by Israeli authorities to restrict incoming travel from countries with high Omicron numbers was no longer logical.
Initially, the travel restrictions imposed in Israel prevented people from traveling to 69 countries that had been classified as ‘red’ under the Israeli traffic-light system. Likewise, foreign travelers from those countries had also been barred from entering Israel. However, this list of countries had been reduced to 15 in the previous week, but it still included some prominent locations, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The other countries on this list include the United Arab Emirates, France, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Switzerland, Spain, Mexico, Turkey, Hungary, Portugal and Ethiopia. Zarka said that they had to consider opening the skies in the coming week.
Likewise, another area of concern amidst the rising cases of coronavirus in Israel is the education sector. Schoolchildren had to sit at home last year and this resulted in a lot of damage, which is not something they wish to repeat. Therefore, it is a complex decision for the authorities in Israel because they have to decide between switching to Zoom for continuing studies, or to have children get tested every day before they are allowed to attend school, which could be very taxing eventually.