Israel Led Path In African Travel Restrictions Due To New COVID Variant

Health officials in Israel are warning citizens of an impending emergency condition due to the first detected infection of the omicron variant of COVID. Israel has instituted travel restrictions from most nations in Africa as a result.

The Israeli Health Ministry reported a positive test for infection from the new variant in a traveler returning from Malawi in East Africa. Two other possible cases are being investigated. The travelers are all vaccinated and have been put into quarantine.

First detected in South Africa, the variant is being closely monitored and studied. It appears to be highly subject to mutation and spreading rapidly in various regions of the African continent.

On Friday, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the country is “on the threshold” of an emergency condition due to the detected infections. He called a meeting of his Cabinet to address what government measures may be necessary to deal with the new variant.

Bennett said that health authorities in the country were still trying to determine if the new variant is more deadly than other known variants or is resistant to current vaccines. He asked citizens to “be prepared” and join in the work against the variant however possible.

Israel is considering all Sub-Saharan African nations to be “red countries” that will see travel restrictions for some time. Israeli citizens will not be permitted to travel to those countries, and anyone returning from the region will be subject to quarantine requirements.

Israel’s military is being deployed to locate any persons who have returned from any of the “red countries” in the last week so that they can be tested and isolated.

Several nations have followed Israel’s early reaction in Europe and the United States. European travel restrictions are in place in different locations, and the U.S. announced restrictions that are effective as of Monday.

Joe Biden announced the travel restrictions hours after Dr. Anthony Fauci said it was too soon to put a ban. Fauci said that restrictions should not be announced without “some scientific reason to do it.” He said that the U.S. was “rushing” to “make an informed decision about something like that.”