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150 Israelis From India, Mexico Refuse Tests, At Least 55 Cases On Flights

About 150 Israelis who recently arrived on flights from India and Mexico refused to undergo a second test for the coronavirus, Channel 12 News reported on Tuesday evening.

The initial coronavirus test upon Ben-Gurion Airport is mandatory but the second test is not and passengers cannot be legally forced to be tested again. However, since 55 passengers on the two flights already tested positive for the virus, the second test is vital to thwart the spread of the Indian variant in Israel.

India is currently experiencing a catastrophic surge of infections and there is fear of the new Indian variant spreading in Israel. To date, eight cases have been identified in the country.

Since some of the passengers who refused to be tested a second time have been vaccinated or already recovered from the coronavirus, they are not required to quarantine, increasing fears that they will spread the Indian variant if they’re carriers.

Some health officials have expressed fears that the Indian variant will be resistant to vaccines. However, Prof. Eran Segal, a computational biologist who developed Weizmann Institute’s prediction model for the spread of COVID in Israel, believes that existing vaccines should protect against the Indian variant.

“The Indian variant has 13 mutations…and we’re familiar with the most important one from other variants and the vaccines are effective against them,” he told Channel 12 News. “We believe that the vaccines will also be effective against this variant but we don’t know for sure.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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