Airport corona tests: My results never arrived, incoming passengers say

Written by on June 29, 2021

David Benson and his wife landed in Israel from Chicago on June 16. The couple, American citizens, had not visited their daughter and grandchildren for over a year, and went to great lengths to receive a permission to enter the country as first-degree relatives of an Israeli citizen. As all incoming passengers, before leaving the airport, they underwent a coronavirus PCR test. Almost two weeks later, they have not received the results.

“I never received them and I was never told that I would not receive them,” Benson said. “However, we did not need the PCR test results to be released from quarantine, the serological test was enough.”

Currently all people who are vaccinated abroad need to take a serological test to prove the presence of antibodies in their blood in order to skip the mandatory isolation period. Most, including the Bensons, rush to take it right after leaving the airport.

“We received the results in about 12 hours and I contacted the Health Ministry,” Benson said. “I was told to fill in a form and include the serological test results. We soon received a message releasing us.”

The PCR test was not mentioned.

The Bensons are not an isolated case. Thousands of incoming passengers have not received the results of their PCR tests since the company FEMI Premium started to operate the testing station at Ben-Gurion on June 15, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

“I didn’t get my results from the PCR,” said Rosanne Koenigson, who arrived to Israel on Thursday to visit her daughter. “I went straight to United Hatzalah in Jerusalem for the serological test. By 4:30 it was done. I called the Health Ministry on Friday morning and got released from quarantine by email in less than an hour after my call.”

Koenigson said that the process of getting tested at the airport was very quick and efficient and she did not expect to receive the results of the PCR test.

“I didn’t ask for them,” she said. “My impression was that everything was uploaded to the Health Ministry with my passport number. The PCR was only one step in the process. Serology was the second step.”

Other travelers were more surprised.

Facebook groups and pages devoted to help people navigate the bureaucracy of visiting or leaving Israel at the time of corona are flooded with messages from passengers puzzled by the fact that the results never arrived.

D.G. is an Israeli citizen and she is getting married on Sunday. Several of her family members traveled to Israel for the wedding. They also underwent both the PCR and the serological test, got released from isolation after getting the results of the second, never got the results of the first.

“People pay a lot of money to a private company and then they do not get their results,” she said, adding that she also knows of many Israelis in the same situation.

“But the main problem is that someone could be vaccinated and have the antibodies and still be infected and if they do not receive the results of their PCR test they do not know that they are positive and can go around and infect other people,” she further said.

At the moment, Israel does not require vaccinated or recovered individuals to isolate, unless they come back from countries placed under travel ban due to their high morbidity – currently Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa.

“I am an Israeli citizen, I returned to Israel from France on June 20 and I took the PCR test,” said M. “I never heard from them again.”

Sometimes, the issue appears to be technical.

“I have not gotten the results of my granddaughter’s PCR which was taken together with her mother and two brothers,” said Zelda. “We only got three out of four results.”

In theory, Israeli citizens or residents are supposed to receive the results through their health funds, while visitors who are not members of a health fund should receive a link to check their results at a specific website where they are uploaded by the Health Minister but both often do not happen.

“If Israel wants to reopen to tourism, they will need to solve all these problems and improve the communication,” D.G. concluded.

Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.

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