Israel installed rapid antigen testing stations across the country on Sunday, amid a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. “At the request of the Ministry of Health, Magen David Adom (MDA) opened 120 stations for the rapid detection of the coronavirus this Sunday,” according to a statement from this Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross. The rapid test, intended in particular for people who have not been vaccinated and need a health pass or have been cured of Covid, offers results in fifteen minutes.

Screening at these stations costs 52 shekels (about 17 euros) and allows you to obtain a health pass from the Ministry of Health, valid for 24 hours. From this Sunday morning, unvaccinated people must take a test of less than twenty-four hours while the ministry has also announced to extend the health pass to those under 12 years of age from August 20. Israel is trying to avoid further containment as the country has seen an increase in pollution in recent weeks.

“Containment will be imposed as a last resort,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said in a statement, welcoming the launch of the rapid test. Israel, a country of nine million people, was one of the first to launch a vast vaccination campaign in December, thanks to an agreement with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The deal gave the Jewish state quick access to millions of doses paid in exchange for biomedical data on the effects of the vaccine.

The campaign has reduced the number of cases, but in recent weeks contamination has increased again with the spread of the most contagious Delta variant, in unvaccinated adults but also in people vaccinated more than six months ago. On July 29, Israel launched a new campaign to provide a third booster dose to the elderly and reinstated the health pass.

Only people fully vaccinated, cured of Covid-19 or with a negative test are thus authorized to enter a place, indoors or outdoors, with capacity for more than 100 people. In the last 24 hours, Israel has registered 2,886 new cases. According to the latest official report, the country has registered a total of 898,433 infections and 6,535 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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