Israel to begin mass testing for virus antibodies
May 22, 2020
(JNS)—Israeli health- care providers plan to start testing the population for coronavirus antibodies this week in an attempt to discover how many Israelis have developed immunity to the virus, Israeli media reported on Sunday.
Depending on the results, large segments of the population could potentially not have to worry about being quarantined or isolated and could fly or rejoin the workforce without any restrictions, according to Ynet.
Last week it was reported that Israel was planning to conduct 100,000 serological tests for COVID-19 as part of its efforts to determine just how widespread the disease was. Israel has purchased 2.4 million test kits to this end, and once the Health Ministry deems the tests effective, the first to get tested, on a voluntary basis, will be at-risk populations, including medical staff and the elderly, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the government is expanding the aid program to deal with the coronavirus crisis from NIS 80 billion ($22.8 billion) to NIS 100 billion ($28.5 billion), the Israeli Finance Ministry announced on Friday.
To accomplish this the government will have to amend the country’s Basic Law: The State Economy, which requires a Knesset majority, according to a report on Sunday by the Israeli business daily Globes. To finance the program, Israel’s fiscal deficit will have to exceed 10.2 percent of GDP, which it was already expected to reach by the end of the year.
The new funds will go to increasing employment and to at-risk businesses. In addition, funds will be used for infrastructure projects, including the digitization of public services, online health services, and assistance for small businesses, according to the report.