Virus-Battered Israel to Close Airport, Vaccinate Teens

In a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus, Israel on Monday approved a week-long closure of the country’s airport.  The country also expanded its velocious vaccination drive on Sunday to include 16- to 18-year-olds.

According to the Education Ministry, the decision to vaccinate teenagers is “to enable their return (to school) and the orderly holding of exams.”

While Israel is faring along with some of the worst countries in the world when it comes to contagion — surpassing even the U.S., the country is leading the world by a large margin with its aggressive vaccination campaign and has administered the vaccine to well over 25 percent of its population.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Monday tweeted: “Israel is continuing to lead the world with 3.7 million vaccinations (2.590 million got the first dose, and among them more than a million have also received the second dose) and we are opening the week with about 200,000 vaccination a day.”

“This is the way to beat the virus!” he said.

Israel is in its third week of lockdown.

The closure of Ben Gurion Airport, the country’s main international gateway, will remain in effect until Sunday, January 31, when the national lockdown will be lifted.

International travelers are believed to be the primary source of the contagion, and in particular, of variants entering the country. The travel ban will apply even to those who have been fully vaccinated, according to Israeli media reports.

The British variant has fast been spreading through the country in recent weeks — accounting for some 40 – 50 percent of new cases — but according to preliminary studies released last week, the Pfizer vaccine appears to be effective against it. South African and Brazilian mutations have also been identified.

January marked Israel’s deadliest month of the coronavirus outbreak with more than 1,000 deaths so far.

The second highest month was October 2020 with 961 deaths.

One thousand of Israel’s population of 9.2 million is the proportional equivalent of 43,000 Americans.

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