Can arrivals be made to test for swine flu?
Prime Minister Netanyahu, Interior Minister Yishai debate enforcing mandatory testing for H1N1 virus on all passengers arriving in Israel. Matter under legal review; State to give Gaza authorities thousands of livestock vaccinations as precautionary measure
One of the issues discussed was conditioning the entry of all arrivals at Ben-Gurion International Airport with a test for the H1N1 virus, to be preformed by a physician at the airport, with aim to try and stop anyone found infected from entering the country.
The Entry into Israel Act of 1952 states that the Interior Ministry may restrict tourist entry to the country for a variety of reasons. Israeli citizens cannot be stopped from entering the country, but leaving the airport can be preconditioned by medical clearance.
Due to the innate sensitivity of the matter, the final decision is pending a legal review.
Arrivals at Ben-Gurion Airport (Photo: AP)
The Health Ministry set up a clinic at the Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday, urging all arrivals from Mexico to be tested for swine flu, but still – testing for it is voluntary.
The fact that the test was not made mandatory allowed for a 20-year-old woman returning from Mexico City on Saturday to skip the procedure, only to be hospitalized and found to be infected with the virus on Sunday afternoon.
So far, Israel has reported four confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus, with about a dozen suspected cases testing negative for the virus. Three of the four patients diagnosed with the flu have been released from hospital and are said to be doing well.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry said Monday that it will transfer 75,000 doses of sheep, cattle and poultry vaccinations to the Gaza Strip, in order to prevent the spreading of the virus and to protect livestock in Gaza and Israel. The World Health Organization insists the disease cannot be transferred from livestock to humans.
WHO tallied 987 confirmed cases of swine flu since the disease was first diagnosed, with 20 fatalities. Twenty countries worldwide have reported cases of flu infections so far.