Health Ministry's Director of Public Health Dr. Sharon Elroy-Preis presents new travel restrictions amid spread of highly mutated Omicron coronavirus variant

Israel imposes travel bans for Britain, Denmark over Omicron spread

With Health Ministry's public health chief's announcement, Israel's travel blacklist extends to some 50 countries since the discovery of the highly contagious variant

Gilad Cohen, Reuters |
Updated: 12.12.21, 20:12
Israel on Sunday announced it was adding Britain and Denmark to its "red" list of countries that Israelis are forbidden to visit, citing concern over the spread of the Omicron variant.
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  • The travel restrictions for the three countries will go into effect on Wednesday, Health Ministry's Director of Public Health Dr. Sharon Elroy-Preis told a news conference.
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    שרון אלרעי פרייס במסיבת העיתונאים
    שרון אלרעי פרייס במסיבת העיתונאים
    Health Ministry's Director of Public Health Dr. Sharon Elroy-Preis presents new travel restrictions amid spread of highly mutated Omicron coronavirus variant
    (Photo: GPO)
    Israel has already banned the entry of foreigners to try to stem COVID-19 infection rates and imposed 3-7 day self-isolation orders for Israelis returning from abroad.
    At the news conference, Alroy-Preis said Britain and Denmark were being placed on the restricted list because of the "significant spread of the Omicron variant" there.
    She had also announced that Belgium would be included in the ban but the Health Ministry said later it had reassessed infection rates there and decided to keep the country off the "red" list for now.
    Some 50 countries, mainly in Africa, have been declared "red" by Israel since the discovery of the highly contagious variant.
    Israeli health officials said there have been 55 confirmed cases of Omicron infection in Israel, which has been trying to accelerate its vaccination program while weighing stricter enforcement of mask mandates.
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    ניצן הורוביץ במסיבת עיתונאים על הקורונה והזן החדש אומיקרון בסורוקה, באר שבע
    ניצן הורוביץ במסיבת עיתונאים על הקורונה והזן החדש אומיקרון בסורוקה, באר שבע
    Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz
    (Photo: GPO)
    Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that Israel was in a good shape as it pertains to the Omicron variant but that the state could not completely prevent the spread of the variant across the country, but only stall its spread as officials buy precious time to collect more data and vaccinate more citizens.
    "We know that whoever's vaccinated according to the Health Ministry's guidelines is much more protected against [the Omicron variant]," Horowitz said. "All signs are pointing to boostered Israelis being much better protected from severe illness. Whoever's not getting vaccinated is risking themselves, their surroundings and society as a whole."
    These comments come just hours after Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash said that a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine could be made available as soon as next month.
    "We have preliminary data that is still inconclusive as to how long the booster shot will be effective and an uncertainty regarding the new Omicron variant," Ash said.
    "In my estimation, we will need a fourth dose and a decision will be made soon."
    First published: 19:57, 12.12.21
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