Israel is to ban foreigners from entering the country for 14 days and use surveillance to stop the spread of the new Covid strain, local media report.
The ban is due to come into effect on Sunday at midnight after the cabinet has given its full approval.
Israel has so far confirmed a case of the potentially more contagious Omicron strain, first discovered in South Africa.
Many countries have now banned travel to South Africa and its neighbors.
South Africa has complained that it is being punished – instead of applauded – for discovering Omicron earlier this month.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the new variant is “worrying,” with early evidence suggesting a higher risk of reinfection.
However, the WHO has warned that countries should rashly impose travel restrictions and adopt a “risk-based and scientific approach”.
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The Israeli coronavirus cabinet passed a series of new restrictions at a crisis meeting late Saturday that are subject to final approval by the larger cabinet.
In addition to the entry ban for non-Israelis, a three-day compulsory quarantine would be required for all vaccinated Israeli nationals and a seven-day quarantine for those who are not vaccinated.
The cabinet also approved the surveillance of confirmed coronavirus patients by Israel’s Shin Bet security agency.
On Saturday before, the Israeli authorities had put 50 African states on the so-called “red” list.
All Israeli nationals returning from these countries are required to quarantine themselves and undergo Covid tests at government-approved hotels.
An entry ban was imposed on foreigners from most African countries on Friday.
Israel has confirmed more than 1.3 million Covid infections with over 8,100 deaths since the pandemic began, according to data from the American Johns Hopkins University.
On Friday and Saturday, a number of countries around the world announced new measures to stop the spread of the new variant:
Travelers from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho and Eswatini cannot enter the UK unless they are British or Irish nationals or residents of the UK.
US officials said foreigners would be prevented from entering from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, reflecting previous moves by the EU. They come into force on Monday.
Australia announced on Saturday that flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique will be suspended for 14 days. Non-Australians who have been in these countries in the past two weeks are now banned from entering Australia
Japan has announced that travelers from much of southern Africa will be under quarantine for 10 days from Saturday and will have to complete a total of four tests during this time
India has ordered stricter screenings and tests for travelers from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong
Canada excludes all foreigners who have traveled through South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini or Mozambique in the past 14 days
According to the WHO, the number of cases of this variant, which was originally named B.1.1.529, appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.
“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are worrying,” said the United Nations Health Department on Friday.
It said: “The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection came from a sample taken on November 9th”.
WHO said it would take a few weeks to understand the effects of the new variant as scientists worked to determine how transmissible it was.
The head of the South African Medical Association told the BBC that the cases found so far in South Africa – where only about 24% of the population are fully vaccinated – are not serious, but investigations into the variant are still at a very early stage.