Bennett’s big COVID gamble

The moment when the Ministry of Health ad on Tuesday that homebound Israeli travelers and incoming tourists will be allowed to present an updated rapid antigenic coronavirus test to enter the country, this despite the questionable efficacy of the tests, seems questionable at best .
Many countries in Europe, including Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and others. are watching their coronavirus morbidity breaking new heights, and each person who returns from there is not only a possible carrier of the virus and its variants, but, what is more disturbing, also of still unknown mutations.

However, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett believes this is the perfect time to start boosting tourism in Israel.

This movement joins another decision made last week to allow foreign tourist groups to enter the country even if they have not been vaccinated with the COVID booster vaccine and are less than six months away from their last vaccination.

It should be noted that the state of Israel does not recognize its citizens as “fully vaccinated” unless they have received their booster.

Both steps, which the government boasts of successes, mainly show Bennett’s dangerous indifference to the pandemic.

Tourists from coronavirus hot spots can now enter the country virtually non-stop now that they are exempt from one of the most crucial tools in the battle against the disease.

With all due respect to drills (which are mostly PR stunts at the end of the day), it doesn’t appear that the government is actually making any serious effort to prevent this hypothetical mutation from entering. In reality, they are only hastening their arrival.

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A healthcare worker takes a swab sample from a traveler for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at Ben Gurion International Airport

A healthcare worker takes a swab sample from a traveler for a coronavirus test at Ben-Gurion International Airport

(Photo: Reuters)

The only reason behind these outrageous decisions, like the ones made before, is financial.

The Finance Ministry is not interested in compensating crisis-affected businesses, as it normally would in the event of a global pandemic, so the government is willing to take blatantly irrational risks to keep the economy open.

Bennett argues that Israel dealt with the Delta variant responsibly and without blockages, but the truth is that the prime minister took a huge risk with our lives and somehow, hopefully, came out relatively unscathed.

With Israel facing mounting risks that our prime minister is willing to take without hesitation, last week showed the first possible signs that the fourth wave of infection may not have completely faded and that we may be on the cusp of a new one.

Confirmed cases continue to rise, along with the reproductive number R of the virus, which is getting closer to 1.

Most of these unvaccinated children become ill, return home, and are at risk of infecting others.

Add to this the warning news that Sheba Medical Center has witnessed a decrease in the amount of antibodies in people who had received the booster, this despite claims by politicians that the third jab is impenetrable.

While the hospital emphasized that it is dealing with a small number of people, it further reinforces concerns that there is no magic bullet for the disease.

Either way, Israel’s leaders must wake up from their indifference and ensure that the grim realities of the past two years do not return.

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