Queues in Ben Gurion airport
Queues in Ben Gurion airportAvshalom Sassoni/Flash90

As rumors swirl that the government is planning to close Ben Gurion airport entirely, the Minister of Internal Security, Omer Bar Lev (Labor) told Channel 13 News on Sunday evening that no such plan exists. However, he noted, more countries will soon be added to the "banned" list of destinations. Presently, only eight countries are on the banned list: India, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Uzbekistan, Argentina, Belarus. Spain and Greece are expected to join them in the next few days, followed by others.

In the last few weeks alone, 529 people infected with coronavirus have returned to Israel from trips overseas, according to a report on Channel 12 News.

Many of the countries from which Israeli citizens arrived are not on the list that require arrivals to self-isolate upon their return. Nonetheless, Israelis have returned infected and in turn infected many others. According to Channel 12’s report, the city that has been most affected by incoming virus infections has been Modi’in, to the extent that it has now turned “red.” The source of the infections there appears to be in Greece. A female Modi’in resident returned from vacation there, did not enter quarantine upon her return, and sparked a chain of infections that ultimately affected at least 166 people.

Another chain of infections began in Binyamina after a family returned from the United States and did not self-isolate. At least 280 people have been infected with coronavirus due to this one family. Another infection chain started in a different foreign country, entered Israel via a single family from Tel Aviv, and has to date infected at least 113 people.

An internal document from the Health Ministry that was obtained by media sources states: “Such incidents illustrate the threats posed by Israelis returning from abroad and the swift spread of the virus –caused by a strain of the virus that is more infectious [than the previously most common variant], and also by the lack of [effective] restraints.”

Earlier on Sunday, Prof. Nachman Ash, director-general of the Health Ministry, appealed to the general public to refrain from traveling abroad unless the trip is necessary.