Israel Introduces ‘Drive-Thru’ Coronavirus Test Stations

An Israeli man arrives to vote at a polling booth specially erected for the 5,600 voters under quarantine, many of whom visited countries where the coronavirus COVID-19 is prevalent, during parliamentary elections in the northern Israeli city of Haifa on March 2, 2020. - Israelis were voting for a third …
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty

TEL AVIV – Israel will instate “drive-thru” COVID-19 testing stations on Wednesday that will allow 6,000 Israelis to be tested daily, the country’s emergency service Magen David Adom said Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chaired a meeting at his office in Jerusalem to discuss expanding the number of coronavirus tests conducted and adding more testing methods. The meeting was attended by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman, among others.

The first drive-thru stations will be opened in Tel Aviv and will be followed by five more in Haifa, Jerusalem, Petah Tikva, Rishon Lezion and Beersheba. They will operate 24 hours a day in open areas to allow for a continuous stream of vehicles to enter and exit, MDA said.

Until now, only 7,000 tests have been performed.

The stations will require a referral from a physician in order to carry out the test. People who are in quarantine will be able to be tested at home. Staff will be in full protective gear, MDA said.

The news of the drive-thrus came as new restrictions were rolled out in the country, amounting to a near lockdown.

Citizens were told to avoid going outside unless “absolutely necessary” in a bid to combat the novel coronavirus.

Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov warned Israelis that “anywhere you go there could be a person with coronavirus.”

“Do not leave your home,” he said in a directive. “Only to go to work or to purchase essential items, such as groceries, medicine and the like.”

Parks, beaches, pools, nature reserves, libraries and museums are now prohibited as well as all social interactions. Classes, workouts and group sports are banned.

The elderly and people of any age who are immunocompromised should not leave home at all and neither should they host people at home.

All dental procedures should be rescheduled unless emergency treatment is required.

Delivery services should be placed at the door.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Israel had confirmed 324 carriers of the virus, a quarter of which showed no symptoms whatsoever. Five are in critical condition. There have been no deaths so far.

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