Source: Jack Davis
Fortress Israel is banning foreigners from entry in response to the Omicron strain of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the embattled nation would “act fast, early, hard and strong” after one case of the new variant was confirmed in Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post. Seven potential Omicron cases are under investigation.
The tough Israeli rules say that anyone seeking entry to Israel, even vaccinated Israelis, must go into isolation for three days after entering the country. Unvaccinated Israeli citizens will be put in isolation for seven days.
“We are not taking any chances,” Bennett said. “We want to stop this early … We want to prevent or delay the entrance of this variant into Israel.”
📍BREAKING— Israel 🇮🇱 reports its first confirmed case of new #B11529 coronavirus variant in a traveler who flew ✈️ from Malawi ➡️ this is now the 3rd case outside of Africa (after 2 cases found in Hong Kong 🇭🇰 – see thread 👇). #NuVariant https://t.co/MmvdYCeYND— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) November 26, 2021
Under Israel’s new rules, travelers are tested at the airport and again on day three before being allowed to leave isolation.
Unvaccinated Israelis would be required to be isolated for seven days and can only be released after a negative test.
Israel is also seeking to limit travel to countries where it fears the variant exists.
Israel on Saturday created a red zone for travel that includes about 50 African countries. Anyone leaving Israel who travels to a red zone nation would be fined, and travelers seeking to leave must declare they will not go to one of those nations.
Surveillance of anyone returning from a red zone country who tests positive will also be performed by the Israeli security agency Shin Bet.
Bennett used the new rules as an opportunity to urge Israelis to be vaccinated as the Hanukkah holiday begins.
“The indications are that a vaccine prevents serious illness and the booster is very significant for protection against serious illness,” he said. “That is, even if you become infected, the booster protects you from a serious illness.
“Those who have not yet been vaccinated with a booster simply voluntarily give up an essential layer of protection, at a critical time,” Bennet continued. “In preparation for Hanukkah events, so that the children can go out and celebrate safely, take them to get vaccinated.” Related: At Least 60 Christians Kidnapped at Gunpoint in Nigeria
Israel is now seeking to contact individuals who entered Israel from red zone countries over the past week to have them tested.
“We understand there is a good chance that the new variant has already arrived here, so we are doing all we can to cut off the chains of infection,” said Reli Margalit, commander of Alon Headquarters. “Fortunately, at this time, the number of cases verified in Israel is low, and we have enough manpower to deal with them.”
The Omicron variant was brought into Israel by a traveler who returned from Malawi. That person had been fully vaccinated at the time.