Stay away from China for now, COVID-19 project manager advises

Science and Health

Israelis should not be traveling to China now, COVID-19 project manager Prof. Salman Zarka recommended in an online briefing for health reporters on Wednesday. He also suggested that Israelis returning from China, which he said does not have the disease under control, should voluntarily be tested for the virus upon their arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Governmental bodies that have been supervising the effects of the pandemic will continue to function at least until the end of March, but Home Front Command will close its last testing facilities by the end of January, Zarka said. The four public health funds will continue to perform tests and provide treatment, as will hospitals that care for seriously ill patients, he said.

PCR tests can be taken at health fund clinics for those at high risk, people over the age of 65 and anyone with a chronic illness. Those who test positive are eligible to receive oral drugs within a few days of testing to protect them from complications.

No strokes from COVID-19 vaccine

The US Food and Drug Administration, Israel’s Health Ministry and other governmental agencies around the world have dismissed accusations that COVID-19 vaccines caused strokes in some people over the age of 65, Zarka said. In fact, the risk of strokes is 3.5 times higher among those who were infected with COVID-19 than it is for those who have not been infected, he said.

“There is no connection at all with the vaccine,” he added.

Moderna is now offering an Omicron booster vaccine for people over the age of 18. Pfizer’s vaccine, which has been available here for several months, is aimed at those ages 12 and older. For children ages five and older who are at high risk, a booster vaccine will soon be available here, Zarka said.