To combat the community spread of the omicron variant of Covid-19, Israel’s cabinet considered prohibiting travel with the United States, Canada, and eight other countries.
The proposed regulations, if approved, will go into effect at midnight Tuesday, according to a statement from the Health Ministry. According to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the extremely contagious new strain is in the community transmission phase and has triggered a fifth wave of the pandemic in Israel. In Israel, there are dozens of confirmed and feared omicron cases, including the majority of 17 confirmed Covid cases aboard a recent flight from the United States.
The new strain is wreaking havoc across Europe, with hospitals becoming overburdened and policymakers reinstating strict measures to limit spread during the holiday season. Following the discovery of the new variant on the continent, Israel initially prohibited travel with the majority of Africa. According to the Health Ministry’s website, 59 countries are currently on its “red” list.
According to the Health Ministry’s website, 59 countries are currently on its “red” list. The majority are from Africa, but there are a few from Europe, including Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Switzerland if the new restrictions are enacted. Even if they have been immunized or recovered, Israeli citizens returning from “red” destinations must enter quarantine for at least seven days. Non-Israelis from these countries are not permitted entry. The Prime Minister claimed that the travel restrictions to Africa had given Israel more time to prepare for the arrival of omicron, but he warned that “time is running out.” He persuaded vaccine skeptics to get vaccinated. “Every person needs to make sure that he has been vaccinated with three doses and that his children have been vaccinated,” he said.
Those who received the second Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shot between five and six months ago had no protective immunity against infection caused by the omicron variant, but that protection increased significantly in those who had recently received a third dose, claimed a recent study of 40 Sheba Medical Center employees.
Preventing Israeli citizens and residents from traveling to the United States would be a significant step for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government, given the hundreds of thousands of dual nationals and close ties between the two countries. On Sunday, lawmakers authorized a piece of earlier advice from the health ministry to prohibit Israeli citizens and residents from traveling to France, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Finland, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates.
In addition to the United States, the Health Ministry suggested that Canada, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland, and Turkey be red-listed, with approval still pending from the government and lawmakers. Over 4.1 million of Israel’s approximately 9.3 million population have received three doses of a coronavirus vaccine, and the country is currently immunizing children aged 5-11.