Israel has recently been celebrating the achievement of 'herd immunity' from coronavirus. However, the disastrous situation in Inda thanks to its new variant is a reminder that true herd immunity will only be achieved when the whole world catches up in vaccinations.
Last week, we reported that the Health Ministry had advised against travel to seven countries where there is high risk from the pandemic. This advice has now been strengthened with a new rule applying from tomorrow (3 May) requiring all travellers from Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Turkey to isolate upon arrival in Israel even if they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from infection.
Until 2019, tourism had been increasing year-on-year to new record levels. After a disastrous year for the industry, hotels are beginning to open this month in anticipation of vaccinated foreign tourists being allowed to visit. We certainly know a lot of people who have very much missed being able to make their annual pilgrimage to the holy land.
One very unfortunate consequence of the pandemic is that both hotels and restaurants are experiencing a shortage of staff, with many potential workers preferring to continue receiving furlough payments or welfare benefits.
As recently as February, 3000 IDF personnel were infected with Covid-19 but it has been reported that the military is completely free from infection for the first time since the pandemic began. With infection rates now very low, Israel remains in 20th place for the number of coronavirus tests per million people (1,544,898), seven places below the UK (2,292,382). This compares to the disputed territories in 91st place (336,255).
Israel has fallen again, to 61st place, for deaths per million people (692 per million). The UK has at last fallen, to 14th place, with 1,871 deaths per million, still far higher than Israel: a testament to the heroes of Magen David Adom and all those involved in the Israeli health system. Also impressive is the statistic for the disputed territories, with only 629 deaths per million people despite rising slightly to 65th place in the list. Both Israelis and Palestinians therefore remain much less likely to die of Covid-19 than the frequency of confirmed cases would suggest, whereas people in the UK are much more likely to die.