70% of COVID-19 carriers in Israel infected by visitors from US

Study concludes just 5% of virus carriers who arrived in Israel were responsible for spreading up to 80% of infections.

Eitan Divinsky ,


N12 reported that as many as 70% of coronavirus carriers in Israel were infected by tourists or Israelis arriving on flights from New York.

According to a study by the Department of Molecular Biology at the Tel Aviv University, the vast majority of those infected by the novel coronavirus in Israel picked up the disease from visitors from the U.S. or Israelis returning home on flights from N.Y. City. Approximately 30% were infected by tourists from Europe with 8% of them by visitors from Belgium.

China, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan were listed as countries with a high number of virus carriers that had not made an impact on Israel.

According to the study, the main reason for the discrepancy was the fact that Israel closed its gates to countries in the far East and Europe much earlier than it did so to flights from the US.

The study also concluded that just 5% of virus carriers who arrived in Israel were responsible for spreading up to 80% of the infections. These "Mega Infectors" were individuals who failed to conform to government guidelines, instead opting to travel around the country infecting countless others.

Researchers offered two explanations for the phenomenon: First, isolation orders for individuals returning from the United States were delayed 39 days after flights from China had already been banned. In addition, the report alleged that behavior of American visitors to Israel contributed to the spread of the virus. The study found that some returnees did not fully comply with isolation guidelines.

Dr. Adi Stern, who conducted the research, told N12 that the findings emphasize the need for border closure and "social distancing" for defeating the disease. "If we talk about what's next - it's very important to close borders as soon as virus entry is detected from outside...The efficiency and effectiveness of the closure actually worked," she said.