Israel closed its borders to all foreigners late Saturday and reinstated phone monitoring in an effort to combat the Covid super-mutant Omicron.
Protesters against the lockdown protested in Hague after the government imposed more Covid-19 limits as part of a ‘light’ lockdown – and prohibited New Year’s Eve fireworks – in order to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations as physicians in the Netherlands treat virus patients.
Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom have all confirmed instances of the highly transmissible and possibly vaccine-resistant Omicron strain found this week in South Africa.
Omicron, which the World Health Organization has designated as a ‘variant of concern,’ is likely more infectious than prior strains of the illness, however, doctors are unsure if it will cause less or more severe Covid-19 infection than past strains.
The variant’s discovery has generated worldwide worry, resulting in a wave of travel restrictions from southern Africa and concerns about poor vaccination rates. The new version has also evolved as a result of an increase in Covid-19 infections in numerous nations around Europe, with some governments reintroducing limits on social activities in an attempt to stem the spread.
Israel said that it will prohibit all foreigners from entering the country and restore counter-terrorism phone monitoring technologies in order to restrict the variant’s spread.
Naftali Bennett, the Prime Minister, said in a statement that the prohibition, which is subject to ratification by the cabinet, would last for a period of 14 days. Israelis who enter the country, even those who have had vaccinations, will be quarantined.
The prohibition will take effect at 12 a.m. on Sunday and Monday. On Friday, a travel restriction was placed on foreign nationals from the majority of African governments.
Since March 2020, the monitoring technology has been used intermittently to compare virus carriers’ whereabouts to those of other nearby mobile phones in order to ascertain with whom they had met or come into contact.
Israel has verified one case of Omicron and suspects seven more. The Ministry of Health has not said if the confirmed patient was immunized.
Three of the seven probable cases, the government said on Saturday, were completely vaccinated, and three had just returned from trips overseas.