Israel bans foreigners from southern Africa over Covid variant

Israel bans foreigners from southern Africa over Covid variant

Israel has banned its citizens from travelling to southern Africa and banning entry of foreigners from the region, citing the detection by South African scientists of a new Covid variant.

South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini were added to Israel's red or highest-risk travel list that reflects the coronaviruses infection rates overseas.

Israelis are not allowed to travel to countries on the red list unless they get special permission from Israel's health ministry, according to Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett s office said that citizens of the seven southern African nations would not be able to enter Israel in a statement announcing the measures.

Israelis returning home from those countries would be required to spend between seven and 14 days in a quarantine hotel after arrival.

The variant called B. 529 has a very unusual constellation of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters at a news conference in South Africa.