In a special operation between defense and foreign ministries, a plane packed with a key material needed to analyze coronavirus tests, took off Wednesday from South Korea en route to Israel.
It has been revealed earlier this week that the shortage of a key reagent (a substance that causes a chemical reaction) needed to analyze COVID-19 samples is bringing the number of tests in Israel down again and unless a new batch of material is found, testing would become increasingly difficult.
The El Al plane from Seoul apparently is carrying enough chemical reagents to perform tens of thousands of coronavirus tests in Israel. In addition, some 30,000 hazmat suits for medical teams were also flown over in the emergency airlift.
Many medical authorities have pointed to a robust testing campaign as critical to tracking and preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“The reagents were bought by the Defense Ministry’s purchasing office for the use of the Health Ministry," the Defense Ministry said in a statement, "In light of the urgency, the Defense Ministry’s unit tasked with international shipping led a rapid operation to bring these chemicals to Israel, before the start of the Passover holiday.”
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised their ministries’ success in bringing the materials to Israel. The CEO of the El Al airline, which has been hit hard by the crisis, also hailed his company for assisting in the effort.
The tens of thousands of tests that could be conducted with the newly-acquired reagent would not last more than a few days at the rate of 10,000 to 30,000 tests a day, which Israeli officials have called for.
As of Wednesday, there have been 9,404 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel, with a death toll of 71. According to the Health Ministry, 147 patients were in serious condition, while another 199 were in moderate condition. The rest either had light symptoms or had already recovered from the disease.