55 arrivals from Mexico, India, refuse coronavirus test

Amid concerns that Indian coronavirus variant may be vaccine-resistant, dozens of Israelis arriving from affected countries refuse to test for the virus.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

New arrivals in Ben Gurion Airport (illustrative)
New arrivals in Ben Gurion Airport (illustrative)
Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Approximately 150 Israelis arriving in Tel Aviv from India and Mexico - both on the list of high-risk countries - are refusing to test for coronavirus.

So far, 55 people on those flights have been confirmed as infected with coronavirus, including ten people who were vaccinated or recovered from the disease.

According to Israel's Health Ministry, even though the travelers underwent a coronavirus test upon arrival at the airport, the second test is extremely important due to concerns that the vaccine does not provide protection against the Indian coronavirus variant, which has already been detected in small numbers in Israel.

Currently, Israeli law does not require travelers to cooperate with coronavirus testing, other than the mandatory testing in Ben Gurion Airport. The major concern is that some of the travelers who have refused to test are recovered from coronavirus or immunized against it, and therefore not currently required to quarantine; if they are infected with the Indian variant, they may spread it within Israel.

It is not yet known whether the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which Israel has used to vaccinate over five million people, is effective against the Indian variant. According to Professor Nachman Ash, Israel's coronavirus czar, the Indian variant has "several signs" which are "not good" and it may prove to be vaccine-resistant.