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Israel bans travel to 7 nations due to COVID

Israelis are now forbidden to visit 7 countries due to soaring outbreaks of the novel coronavirus at those destinations.

Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Turkey are now off-limits to Israeli nationals according to new governmental travel restrictions, although exceptions for special circumstances can be permitted with official approval.

Connecting flights through airports in the designated countries are allowed on condition the layovers are less than 12 hours in duration.

Anyone who is already abroad in any of the banned countries must immediately enter isolation upon returning to Israel, according to an amendment to the Public Health Ordinance signed by the Ministry of Health’s Director General Professor Chezy Levy.

According to a statement from the Health Ministry, “vaccinated and recovered individuals shall be required to stay in isolation for 14 days or 10 days upon testing negative in two coronavirus tests.”

Israel’s “Back to Life” campaign has been one of the world’s most successful vaccination drives.

It nevertheless remains unknown what effect new strains will have on individuals who have been fully vaccinated or recovered from the disease.

The presence of new South American mutations of COVID-19 were diagnosed for the first time in Israel yesterday. An infant and a vaccinated male adult were confirmed as infected with the Brazilian strain, while another adult was found to be carrying the one from Chile. All 3 had returned to the country from overseas.

There is also rising concern over the variant that is devastating India. 60 cases have now been registered in Israel, including 19 yesterday. Last week 41 cases were identified, including 5 fully vaccinated adults. Even more startling was infection among 5 children attending separate schools – among the under-16  population health authorities have so far deemed too young to be safely inoculate.

Israel has already prepared a vaccine roll-out for 12 to 15-year-olds, pending approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

In related developments, the European Union is now considering the easing of coronavirus restrictions as worldwide vaccination drives gain momentum.

Entry into the 27-member bloc is currently extremely limited to countries with low infection rates, and the EU is hoping to expand the number ahead of the looming summer tourist season.

While it is unknown which nations will be approved, a European official speaking on condition of anonymity said that Israel will definitely be on the EU list.