Israel to ban entry of all foreigners over Omicron variant

Ban, which is pending authorities approval, will come into impact at midnight between Sunday and Monday.

Israel says it is going to ban the entry of all foreigners into the nation, making it the primary nation to close its borders fully in response to a brand new and doubtlessly extra contagious coronavirus variant.

In an announcement on Saturday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett mentioned the ban, pending authorities approval, would final 14 days.

Officials hope that inside that interval there can be extra info on how efficient COVID-19 vaccines are towards Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa and has been dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.

“Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country,” Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked advised N12’s Meet the Press. “And that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree.”

The ban will come into impact at midnight between Sunday and Monday. A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was imposed on Friday.

Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from West Jerusalem, known as the brand new measures “extremely stringent” and mentioned they marked a significant reversal of a coverage that allowed in international vacationers firstly of November.

“They are the result of a late night emergency meeting of the coronavirus cabinet, which took place on Saturday evening after a brief announcement from Naftali Bennett that Israel needed to act very quickly in the midst of all this uncertainty and not risk the progress already gained against the coronavirus.”

The new measures will even require all Israelis coming into the nation, together with those that are vaccinated, to quarantine.

Fawcett mentioned Israelis who’re vaccinated should quarantine for no less than three days, whereas those that are unvaccinated should quarantine for seven days.

He added, “And if coming back from one of the newly red-listed African countries, they will have to go into a government quarantine hotel, until they test negative.”

Separately, Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, mentioned that the Shin Bet counterterrorism company’s phone-tracking know-how can be used to find carriers of the brand new variant to curb its transmission to others.

Used on and off since March 2020, the surveillance know-how matched virus carriers’ areas towards different cell phones close by to find out with whom they’d come into contact.

Israel’s Supreme Court this 12 months restricted the scope of its use after civil rights teams mounted challenges over privateness issues.

The variant, which has additionally been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, has sparked international concern and a wave of travel curbs, though epidemiologists say such restrictions could also be too late to cease Omicron from circulating globally.

Israel has to this point confirmed one case of Omicron, with seven suspected circumstances.

The Health Ministry has not mentioned whether or not the individual within the confirmed case was vaccinated. Three of the seven individuals within the suspected circumstances have been absolutely vaccinated, the ministry mentioned on Saturday, and three had not returned from travel overseas just lately.

About 57 % of Israel’s 9.four million inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated, based on the well being ministry, which suggests they’ve both obtained a 3rd shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or it has not but been 5 months since they obtained their second dose.

Israel has recorded 1.three million confirmed circumstances of COVID-19 and greater than 8,000 fatalities because the pandemic started.