israel travel restrictions

Israel to ban entry of ALL foreign nationals in view of ‘Omicron’ Covid variant

Image Source : AP

Travelers walk with their luggage in the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021

Highlights

  • Use of controversial technology for contact tracing has been approved in Israel.
  • Foreign nationals from all countries will be restricted to enter into Israel.
  • New covid variant ‘Omicron’ was found in a traveler in the country on Saturday.

In an effort to clamp down on a new coronavirus variant, Omicron, Israel on Sunday approved barring entry to foreign nationals and the use of controversial technology for contact tracing. The Health Ministry said in a statement that the country’s coronavirus cabinet had authorized a raft of measures, including red-listing travel to 50 African countries, banning entry by foreigners, and mandating quarantine for all Israelis arriving from abroad.

It also approved the use of the Shin Bet internal security agency’s controversial phone monitoring technology to perform contact tracing of individuals confirmed with the new omicron variant of coronavirus in Israel.

Cellphone monitoring

Israel has approved the use of cellphone monitoring technology, which is a controversial method for contact tracing. Israeli rights groups had decried its use, calling it a violation of privacy rights. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that its use be limited.

Dr. Ran Balicer, head of the government’s advisory panel on COVID-19, told Israel’s Kan public radio that the new measures were necessary for the “fog of war” surrounding the new variant, saying it was “better to act early and strictly” to prevent its spread.

Omicron detected in Israel

On Saturday, Israel said it had detected the new strain in a traveler who had returned from Malawi and was investigating seven other suspected cases. The seven people included three vaccinated individuals and all were placed in isolation.

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The new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread.

Israel, a country of 9.3. million people have reported at least 8,184 deaths from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. Most of its population — over 6.3 million people — has received at least one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and more than 4 million Israelis have received a booster. It has more than 7,000 active cases, 120 of them hospitalized in serious condition, according to Health Ministry statistics.

(With agency inputs)

Also Read: Bengaluru: South Africans found COVID positive for Delta variant; official debunks Omicron fear

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