Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will on Sunday ask the government to approve the suspension of passenger flights in and out of Ben-Gurion International Airport for a period of two weeks in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The proposal comes after Netanyahu held consultations with the Health Ministry officials and the National Security Council late Saturday, following concerns over the spread of coronavirus mutations.
The draft proposal to be put to ministers will require the attorney general's approval before taking effect.
Health Ministry officials warned the variant causes more severe illness, which is not always detected by existing testing methods after six pregnant women hospitalized in serious condition with COVID-19 were found to be infected by the new British variant of the virus.
"Our central viral laboratory has thus far received 10 samples from pregnant women suffering from COVID-19. We have completed the DNA sequencing of seven of those samples and found six of them to be of the British variant," a ministry official said.
The ministry is urging pregnant women to get vaccinated for coronavirus as soon as possible.
The Military Intelligence coronavirus taskforce working with the Health Ministry to combat the spread of the virus has warned that a local variant may also appear.
In a report published Saturday, the taskforce proposed mandatory quarantine for all Israelis returning from abroad even if they had already recovered from COVID-19 or had received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
The report noted that it was already too late to stop the British variant spreading in the population.
"This is a global problem evident in Europe, the United States and many other countries and its fast spread makes it much more difficult to contain," the report said.
First published: 07:07 , 01.24.21