Israel bans foreigners from all countries amid virus strain fears

Israel on Monday said it would ban entry to foreigners from all countries in a bid to prevent the spread of a new strain of coronavirus thought to be particularly contagious.

“We have, at the moment, a new pandemic that is spreading, with a virus which we do not yet know about. This mutation could also be coronavirus 2,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter.

“Therefore, I decided last night – and we implemented today – to close the skies of the State of Israel. Foreign nationals will not enter the country, other than exceptions such as diplomats,” he added.

Only Israeli citizens and foreigners with special permits, such as diplomats, will be allowed to enter the country under new rules decided by Israel’s coronavirus cabinet.

They will be required to self-isolate at home, unless they are travelling from Britain, South Africa or Denmark, in which case they must stay in specially designated quarantine hotels.

From Wednesday at 10 pm (2200 GMT) all Israeli incoming travellers will be required to quarantine for 10 to 14 days in the hotels.

The new regulations will initially apply for 10 days, with the possibility of extension.

“This is a difficult decision but we have no choice,” Netanyahu said on Twitter. “I understand the difficulty caused to families, travelers, to everybody. This decision is critical because we must safeguard your health and your lives.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of assistant doctors took to the streets of Tel Aviv to protest against poor working conditions and long working hours.

Assistant doctors in Israel have to work shifts of up to 26 hours at a time. A special regulation allowing this practice has been extended for a further three months, despite the protests.

Monday’s march marks the start of a protest strike by the young doctors, who intend to work weekend shift patterns until further notice. The strike looks set to increase the burden on hospitals already struggling with the pandemic.

Source: GNA

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