Teens on rock in Israel
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As of early August 2020, the following is the procedure for obtaining an early quarantine termination.

This is the season for yeshiva and seminary students arriving in Israel for a year of exciting living and learning. It is also peak season for aliyah. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year is different from other years.

The start of this year will be memorable for a sorely tedious two weeks of isolation for many students. For new Israelis, quarantine on arrival can add another challenge to what is already a major adjustment period. For those required to quarantine, limited early terminations of quarantine are available from the Israel Ministry of Health (Misrad HaBriut), however.

As of early August 2020, the following is the procedure for obtaining an early quarantine termination. The procedure is a little different for non-citizens and others not a member of one of the health maintenance organizations (Kupat Holim) versus members of a Kupat Holim. I will discuss both tracks below. Keep in mind that this procedure could change on a shekel. Everything related to coronavirus is fluid everywhere in the world, and Israeli bureaucracy is unpredictable as a matter of course.

Yael Raymon, M.D.
Yael Raymon, M.D.

The early termination protocol starts with bad news: You must already have had and recovered from COVID-19. Assuming that happened, you need laboratory test results to prove you had the coronavirus and that your body eliminated it. You will also need another negative test in Israel.

Misrad HaBriut specifies that the testing use PCR technology. Other test types may not be acceptable. Antibody tests are not acceptable. Based on research I did recently, LabCorp’s NAA test is a PCR test. BioReference and Quest’s COVID testing does not always use PCR. Check with your physician about what type of testing you had and whether it was PCR. If the testing was not PCR, check with an Israel licensed physician as far in advance as possible of boarding your flight, since a discussion of your test type with Misrad HaBriut after arrival may delay your exit from quarantine.

If you have a documented positive PCR test and a subsequent documented negative PCR test, make sure they are available in electronic format accessible in Israel.

On arriving in Israel, look for a representative from Misrad HaBriut, explain your status as recovered from COVID and ask — like an Israeli —where in the airport you can get your Israel PCR test done. It’s very possible there is no such testing available but there is supposed to be, and it will save time if you can obtain it.

On leaving the airport, enter quarantine. Assuming you could not get tested at the airport, you need to take care of it now. At this point the protocol for a member of a Kupat Holim diverges from that of a non-member. (Remember that if you are making aliyah, you will likely select a Kupat Holim on arrival in Israel.)

Call Misrad HaBriut at *5400. For non-citizens and other non-members of a Kupat Holim, Misrad HaBriut will either contact Magen David Adom (MDA) for you or tell you to do it yourself. MDA will visit you in quarantine and administer a test.

For members of a Kupat Holim, you will need to arrange for a test by the Kupat Holim. The details of how this can be accomplished vary by organization and location in the country. If you know in which Kupat Holim you will participate then it is a good idea to be in contact with the organization in advance to determine how to expedite testing in your circumstance.

Assuming you meet all the above requirements and receive a negative test result in Israel, you are entitled to early termination of quarantine. You will need to provide your history and test results to an Israel licensed physician for review and issuance of a letter certifying your recovery from COVID-19. If you are a member of a Kupat Holim, the visit for this will likely be covered like a regular doctor visit. If you are not a member of a Kupat Holim and have a different type of health insurance in place in Israel, the visit may also be covered, so check with your broker or insurance company.

Submit the signed and stamped physician letter and your positive / negative / negative test results to Misrad HaBriut. You should then be released from quarantine by a written notice from Misrad HaBriut.

May all be inscribed and sealed for a good year — I hope to see you in Jerusalem soon!

Yael Raymon, MD is a graduate of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and licensed to practice medicine in New York State and Israel. She is certified as an internal medicine specialist by Misrad Habriut and by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She made aliyah in 2017, practices in Jerusalem and can be reached on WhatsApp at +972-58-563-5673. Prior to that she was an Assistant Attending at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

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