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Israel opens rapid virus testing at airport


Agence France-Presse

Jerusalem, Undefined   /  Tue, November 10, 2020  /  01:34 pm
Israel opens rapid virus testing at airport

A person holds a COVID-19 coronavirus swab testing kit before sampling booths at the newly-inaugurated coronavirus rapid testing center at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod on November 9, 2020. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurated a rapid coronavirus testing center at Israel's main international airport on Monday, meant to ease travel in and out of the country.

The testing and a lab situated in Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport is available to arriving and departing travelers, he said.

"This can help us return faster, better and more efficiently to normal air travel," he said.

"We want to make it possible to reunite Israel with the world."

The new set-up allows travelers to give a sample at the terminal and have it analyzed at an on-site lab, with the result ready in 5 1/2 to six hours as the traveler waits.

The cost of the express test is 135 shekels ($40).

A slower track, with results in 14 hours, is just 45 shekels, said Transport Minister Miri Regev at the opening ceremony.

A clean bill of health would be certified in a "medical passport" allowing quarantine-free admission to some countries, she said, naming the Seychelles and Dubai as examples.

Read also: Indonesian travelers enjoy convenience of COVID-19 testing at airports

Invited to give a specimen at the opening by a gloved swab-taker working behind a protective window, Netanyahu declined.

"I gave at the office," he said in English.

In March when Israel went into its first coronavirus lockdown, Netanyahu took a precautionary test after a staffer tested positive for the virus.

Netanyahu had a negative result but went into precautionary self-quarantine.

After a peak of more than 10,000 cases per day in September -- then the highest infection rate per capita in the world -- Israel went into its second lockdown.  

The number of COVID-19 cases has since fallen below 1,000 a day, according to official data, and restrictions are being gradually eased in accordance with infection data.

Israel, a country of about nine million people, has recorded 319,500 coronavirus cases, including over 2,600 deaths, according to official figures published on Monday.

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