Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Maccabiah opening ceremony (archives)
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman on Sunday expressed his concern over the expected arrival of thousands of sportsmen from across the world for next month's Maccabiah Games and said they must all be tested for swine flu.
"Some 5,000 athletes are expected to arrive from all over the world. I want us to test all of them before they land in Israel," he said. "I want to prevent a situation in which 5,000 additional people arrive and the disease spreads even more."
Also Sunday, Litzman instructed hospitals to stop taking in swine flu patients who are in minor condition and to send them to community clinics instead. The Health Ministry also canceled its recommendation to Israelis not to travel to Mexico.
According to the deputy minister, from now on swine flu patients will only be hospitalized in cases of complication and deterioration in their condition.
Health Ministry Director-General Avi Yisraeli explained, "In the vast majority of cases, the illness is minor. We have not seen cases of complications in Israel, so there is no reason to act in a different manner than with regular flu.
"We have reached a stage in which we want to strengthen the availability of the communal service and make it easier for people who can now turn to HMOs instead."
Swine flu patients will be able to receive treatment at some HMO branches as of 6 am Monday. Information on the branches offering the Tamiflu treatment will be provided by the HMOs' call centers and websites.
According to Health Ministry data, 95% of Israeli swine flu patients are aged 10-50, and only one case was detected among a person over the age of 70.
"I can't explain the exact reason for this, but it's possible that they had suffered from a similar flu at a certain stage and are now immune," said Liztman.
The deputy health minister stated that each patient will be monitored using lab tests. He added that the ministry was working on new instructions concerning the disease ahead of upcoming summer camps.