Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced today that South Africa and six other African countries have been added to Israel’s list of ‘red’ countries.
The expansion of the ‘red’ list was necessary due to the detection by South African scientists of a new COVID-19 variant in the southern Africa region, according to the PM’s Office.
The variant – called B.1.1.529 – has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters at a news conference in South Africa.
Following a meeting, held by Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett, seven African countries – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini – were included in the list of “red” countries, or countries that Israelis are not allowed travelling to, unless they receive special permission from Israel’s health ministry.
Israelis returning home from those countries would be required to spend between 7-14 days in a quarantine hotel after arrival.
Visitors from these African countries will not be allowed to enter Israel as well, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Israel has recorded 1.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 8,000 dead since the pandemic began.
According to the country’s Health Ministry, only 57% of Israel‘s population of 9.4 million is fully vaccinated.