The US Centers for Disease Control on Monday raised its travel alert level in Israel due to rising coronavirus “cases”.
Israel is now listed by the CDC at Level 3, the second highest, due to the rate of new daily “cases” per capita.
A notice on the CDC website said travelers to Israel should be fully vaccinated and that anyone who is not should avoid non-essential trips.
“Because of the current situation in Israel, all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” it said.
The notice also applies to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The CDC update came as a White House official said the United States will keep existing COVID-19 travel restrictions on international travel in place for now, due to concerns about the surging infection rate because of the Delta variant.
The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that, while the administration understands the importance of international travel, cases are rising in the US — particularly among those who are unvaccinated and will likely continue to increase in the weeks ahead.
Israeli television reported Monday night that the government has raised the threshold for the number of serious COVID-19 cases before which it will reimpose sweeping lockdown measures, due to the drop in coronavirus patients requiring ventilation.
The Channel 12 news report said that while 1,200 serious patients had been thought of as the maximum level hospitals could handle in past waves, that figure was based not on available beds, but on the need for extra medical staff to help treat those on ventilators.
The report came as the Health Ministry reported a further rise in serious “cases”, which rose to 121. Of those, 25 were on ventilators.
New ministry figures showed 1,538 new infections had been confirmed since midnight, more than all of Sunday, in what would be the highest daily caseload since mid-March. There were 12,243 active “cases” out of the 862,559 confirmed in Israel since the pandemic began.
The death toll stood at 6,461.
The ministry also said the positive test rate Monday ticked up further to 2.17 percent.
Out of Israel’s population of some 9.3 million, 5,766,088 have received at least one vaccine dose and 5,318,526 have gotten two shots.
Separately, Channel 13 news cited concerns among health officials of rising coronavirus cases in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities, with the former seeing an increase in infections at schools.
Earlier Monday, the director-general of the Health Ministry rejected an Education Ministry proposal to reduce quarantine for students exposed to the coronavirus to just 48 hours, if they have a negative virus test, as the two ministries wrangled over plans for the upcoming reopening of schools.
Nachman Ash said the Health Ministry was not on board with the Education Ministry’s plan for the new school year, despite the latter claiming otherwise. He acknowledged that the question of shortening quarantine for students was one of the unresolved differences between the ministries.
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton released a plan Sunday calling for students in all grades to return to the classroom, with less quarantine for students and less closure of schools in areas with COVID outbreaks.
Shasha-Biton insisted Monday that her plan had been approved by the Health Ministry.
In a press briefing, Ash said he was troubled by the rise in serious COVID cases, adding that he hoped the reinstatement of the “Green Pass” system, which goes into effect later this week, will help stem the current coronavirus outbreak.
He also urged anyone eligible — ages 12 and up — who has not been vaccinated to do so.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.