Israel is set to cut the quarantine period for people who have been exposed to a confirmed coronavirus patient or who have returned from countries with significant COVID-19 morbidity from 14 days to 12 days, provided they test negative for the pathogen twice.
The new directive is a part of a new pilot program that is set to come into effect at midnight between Thursday and Friday and is set to last until the end of December. Quarantine period could be further shortened to 10 days contingent on the program's success.
According to the new procedure, to complete their isolation period after 12 days, Israelis must report to the Health Ministry they have entered quarantine, perform a preliminary PCR test for coronavirus as soon as possible and another test from the tenth day after their last contact with a confirmed patient or after returning to Israel, and at least 24 hours after the first test.
Israelis in quarantine will only be able to get tested at drive-thru testing points stationed across the country.
The procedure will also be applied retroactively, shortening the isolation period for those currently in quarantine.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein praised the move and said further restrictions on Israelis in quarantine could be assuaged if it proves effective.
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Zvi Hauser conditioned the new procedure on extending the Shit Bet internal security agency's contact tracing of coronavirus patients.
According to data presented at the committee, as of July 1, 1,705,104 Israelis were placed in quarantine after coming in contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient or returning from abroad, costing the Israeli economy close to one billion NIS.