16 Bnei Menashe immigrants to Israel diagnosed with COVID-19 on arrival

Science and Health
Some 16 new Bnei Menashe immigrants from India were placed in hotel isolation on Thursday after testing positive for coronavirus on arrival in the country, the Health Ministry told The Jerusalem Post.
The immigrants were flown to Israel from India despite the Health Ministry’s recommendation against travel to and from the country – which has the highest amount of known infection in the world – at the request of the Aliyah and Integration Ministry and the Jewish Agency, the Health Ministry said.
However, despite media reports that the travelers were infected with the Indian variant, the ministry said that “with which strain they are infected is still unknown. Genetic sequencing takes 10 days.”
Their infection was discovered by a routine COVID-19 test performed on arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport. However, passengers are also required to show a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours before their flight in order to board their aircraft. As such, it is unclear how so many of the travelers were sick.
“The minister has acted and continues to act to further the aliyah of the Bnei Menashe, who have been waiting for many years to arrive in Israel,” said Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said in a statement sent to the Post. “Due to the coronavirus situation in India, their economic situation was exacerbated and therefore the minister acted to bring them immediately [to Israel] even at this time.”
India has reported 28,572,359 total coronavirus cases and 340,719, according to the Worldometer website. On June 2, it reported more than 130,000 new cases. 
Israelis who do travel to Indian are required to enter isolation on their return, even if they are vaccinated. 

Tamano-Shata said that their Aliyah was approved on condition that the immigrants adhere to a strict coronavirus outline provided by the Health Ministry, which included testing in the country of origin.
“Anyone who was found positive for the virus was denied arrival in Israel,” she said. “Thus, all the immigrants who arrived were after negative tests.”
Earlier Thursday, Reuters reported that more than 100 Bnei Menashe who were also planning on immigrating to Israel had to delay their plans after 40 of them were diagnosed with coronavirus and placed in isolation in India. 
There are roughly 6,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community living in India, according to Reuters. 

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