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Health officials put brakes on talk of shutting airport to stem infections

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Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said Monday that he does not plan to push for the government to order the closure of Ben-Gurion airport, a day after reports suggested that authorities were mulling the move as a response to rising coronavirus infection rates.

Horowitz made the comments to fellow ministers, according to Hebrew media reports, and other senior officials said similar broadly applied measures such as a lockdown were not on the table yet, even as the ministry announced that over 800 new cases were confirmed Sunday, bringing the total number of active cases in the country to almost 7,000.

Media reports Sunday indicated that the government was considering a drastic halt to airport travel in order to block entry of coronavirus variants into the country. The Delta mutation in particular has been blamed for a recent resurgence in infections, pushing officials to impose fresh restrictions to curb the wave.

The sources noted that such a decision would cause panic among the tens of thousands of Israelis who are abroad.

Horowitz huddled with Economy Minister Orna Barbivai, Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper, senior Health Ministry officials, and representatives from the Finance Ministry and the National Security Council, Channel 13 News reported.

During the meeting, Horowitz reportedly made it clear that closing the airport was not being considered. The proposal had been raised during recent discussions about measures to counter the recent outbreak, including with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, but sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said that no such decision was likely to be made in the coming days, the Ynet website reported.

There has been some pushback from medical experts against the notion of shuttering the airport.

Galia Rahav, director of the infectious diseases unit at Sheba Medical Center, told Radio 103FM that there is no need to stop travelers from........

© The Times of Israel

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