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Israel bans all foreigners over Omicron

Israel is set to ban the entry of all foreigners into the country, making it the first country to shut its borders completely in response to the potentially more contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.

It also says it will reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology in order to contain the spread of the variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement on Saturday that the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days.

Officials hope that within that period there will be more information on how effective COVID-19 vaccines are against Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa and has been dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation.

Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, would be required to quarantine, Bennett said.

The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday.

The Shin Bet domestic security agency’s phone-tracking technology would be used to locate carriers of the new variant in order to curb its transmission to others, the statement said.

Israel has so far confirmed one case of the variant and seven suspected cases.

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