Israel closing its skies following emergence of UK COVID-19 mutation

December 22, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The Corona Cabinet has decided to close Israel’s skies almost completely, following the emergence of a new Coronavirus (COVID-19) variant in the United Kingdom that is rapidly spreading around the world.

A worker wearing protective clothing disinfects a plane after its arrival from Moscow at the Ben-Gurion International Airport as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, May 5, 2020. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90.

British scientists have warned that a new variant of the Coronavirus ripping through the country is more infectious and is spreading more rapidly.

Analysis suggested that the new variant could increase the R number, which indicates if an epidemic is growing or shrinking, by 0.4 or more, making it 70% more contagious.

The Cabinet on Monday decided to ban the entry of all non-citizens into the country, as it did during the first lockdown earlier this year.

Israelis returning from abroad will be forced to enter a state-run quarantine hotel for 10 days, beginning Wednesday.

Citizens returning from the UK, Australia, Denmark, or South Africa are already being sent to a quarantine hotel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at the beginning of the meeting that he convened the Cabinet “for one purpose and that is to close the skies.”

“Since the meeting last night, the mutation has spread in very many countries and it is clear to us that we are at the start of a very rapid spread,” he noted.

“The viral mass entering Israel must be reduced as much as possible even as in England they are currently checking what exactly this virus is, whether it is resistant to the vaccine and additional questions. In order to do this, I ask that we duplicate what we did during the first wave of the coronavirus: To close the skies as quickly as possible,” he said.

Many Israelis returning from Red countries with high infection rates, and especially Turkey and Dubai, fail to self-quarantine at home, forcing the government to take action, as the infection rate in Israel climbs daily.

Israel’s Corona czar Professor Nachman Ash told Israel Radio that the health system is checking whether the mutation has already arrived in Israel, a fact that may explain the recent spike in the Corona cases.

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