Against the backdrop of Israel's declining coronavirus morbidity, multiple countries are expected to open up their borders to vaccinated citizens in the coming months who hold a green pass, given to those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the pathogen, Channel 12 reported on Tuesday.
Among those are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Morocco with which Israel has recently normalized diplomatic relations.
Russia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Thailand and some other EU states are also expected to allow entry of vaccinated Israelis, according to the report.
With Israel’s current travel restrictions, only around 3,000 Israelis are allowed to return to the country each day while either undergoing quarantine in state-run coronavirus hotels or at home, wearing electronic tracking wristbands.
In addition, vaccinated tourists may be able to enter Israel as early as mid-April, Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen told the Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Israel's over 5 million vaccinated citizens have significantly contributed to the slowing of the pandemic, with the pathogen's reproductive (R) number dropping to 0.7 and the contagion rate to 2.4% as of Tuesday morning.
However, health authorities remain concerned about the entry of new vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variants into its territory via incoming travelers.
"We know the vaccines are effective against the British [coronavirus] variant but there is also the South African mutation against which the shots are less effective," Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health in the Health Ministry said in a press conference. "We must make sure that variants do not enter the country."
The senior health official said that variants that could spread in the community could infect the country's unvaccinated population, including children, and also those who had gotten the vaccine, but their efficacy may have been compromised.
"We have a nationwide laboratory apparatus to carry out genetic sequencing because we want to be prepared. This is our greatest challenge," she said.
Reprinted with permission by i24NEWS.