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The Daily Mirror of the Great Britain

Omicron variant: Israel becomes first country to ban entry to all foreign travellers

Israel will become the first country to shut its borders completely in response to the new variant. The country has also suggested it would use counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.

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

A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was introduced on Friday for Israel.

The emergence of Omicron, the most recent strain of Covid, has sparked concerns around the world of rising case numbers.

Around 57% of Israel’s 9.4million population is fully vaccinated according to the Health Ministry.

The variant was officially reported for the first time on Wednesday.

On the same day South Africa became the first country to officially report a case of the Omicron variant to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday.

The WHO said it will take several weeks to understand its impact.

On Saturday, the UK revealed it had identified its first two cases of the new variant which are linked to travel in southern Africa.

READ MORE: Boris announces new Covid rules over Omicron – full restrictions

In the UK, face coverings will become compulsory on public transport and in shops in response to the new Omicron COVID variant.

On Thursday, the UK announced that people travelling from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini would not be able to enter the country unless they are UK or Irish nationals, or UK residents.

On Saturday, it was announced four more countries would be added to the red list including Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia from 4am on Sunday.

Botswana, Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong have all confirmed cases of the new variant.

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Early data suggests the variant contains many mutations and there is a higher risk of reinfection.

In a statement, the UN public health body said: “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.”