Israel’s hopes for an international “green passport” that will allow vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel the world without quarantine restrictions have been dashed by objections from several major countries, according to a report Wednesday.
Planned green passports were seen as a way of giving certain benefits to Israelis who received other doses of the vaccine, such as permission to attend cultural and other public events. They hoped a similar strategy would be adopted globally, restoring those who were vaccinated the ability to travel abroad.
But according to Channel 12 news, the prospects for such an international document are questionable after several European countries expressed fears in World Health Organization (WHO) talks that it would indirectly force people to get vaccinated and overly restrict individual rights.
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The report states that the objections were made by Germany, Austria and Belgium. She quoted Deputy Health Ministry Director General Itamar Grotto as expecting more countries to express doubts in the coming days over the green passport plan.
Still, the document is moving forward at least nationally, and Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Cannes public television on Thursday that it would be released later this month.
He added that more than 3 million Israelis will receive both vaccines by the end of February and will be able to return to something close to normal life.
Data from the health ministry released Thursday morning said 9,388 cases were confirmed on Wednesday, similar to recent days, with 7.9 percent of tests returning positive.
The total number of cases since the onset of the pandemic has risen to 522,974, including 78,826 active cases – the all-time high. Of these, 1,063 were in critical condition, including 305 in critical condition and 273 on fans.
The death toll reached 3,826, recording an alarming 56 deaths in 24 hours.
According to the data, 1,934,685 Israelis received their first injections of the vaccine, including more than 80% of all citizens over the age of 70. The second dose was administered to 104,346 individuals.
Israel has seen a shortage of vaccines in recent days, but Pfizer has once again stepped up deliveries and is expected to ship hundreds of thousands of doses a week. Another half a million doses are expected to arrive in Israel early next week.
After all Israelis over the age of 50 became eligible for vaccination, Army Radio reported on Thursday that this could be extended to all people over the age of 45 as early as this coming Sunday.
Thursday night will mark the week since Israel entered a tougher blockade that should last until January 21, although officials have repeatedly said the rules are likely to be extended beyond that date.
Coronavirus emperor Nachman Ash has expressed optimism despite the large number of infections, estimating that the current tightened lock could be extended by just a week and end as early as January 28th.
Thanks to a large portion of the at-risk population being immunized, and if serious cases start to fall, measures could be mitigated even if confirmed cases remain high, Ash told the Ynet website on Thursday.
Health ministry officials believe the morbidity of the virus in the third wave that has hit the country has reached a peak and will be reduced, and they are weighing the current lockout limits, according to a separate report on Wednesday.
Netanyahu will meet with health ministry officials on Thursday to discuss whether to extend the restrictions. Some health officials support easing the rules if the number of serious cases falls, Channel 12 News reported.
Netanyahu’s discussions Thursday will also include talks on a green passport plan.
Channel 13 News reported on Wednesday the Ministry of Health’s guidelines for easing locks: In the first phase, kindergartens and grades 1-4 and 11-12 will be partially opened, as will street shops, the report said. In the second phase, grades 5-10 will continue to study, and holders of green passports will be given certain freedoms, such as permission to attend cultural events. In the third phase, restaurants and cafes will reopen.