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As Delta Variant Worries, Israel Resumes Quarantine

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The Delta variant, which first appeared in India, is causing concern around the world – where it is now the majority, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported.

In fact, because of the virulence of this variant, in the United Kingdom, despite the exceedingly high level of vaccination in the country, the Prime Minister had to postpone the total lifting of restrictions.

Israel has empowered health officials to quarantine anyone deemed to have been in “close contact” with the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19, even those already vaccinated or who have recovered from the disease.

The Health Ministry updated its directives on Wednesday, saying that vaccinated or formerly infected people can be ordered to self-isolate if authorities believe they may have been in “close contact with a carrier of a dangerous virus variant.” According to the ministry, “close contact” could include being passengers on the same plane.

The decision comes as Israel has reported more than 100 new Covid-19 cases for the 2nd consecutive day in a spike in cases blamed on the Delta strain, despite the 60% vaccination rate in the country.

The Health Ministry said that 110 new coronavirus cases were identified in Israel on Tuesday, including 64 children and teens registered within the country’s education system, Israeli media reported. Fourteen individuals entered Israel from overseas, KAN public broadcaster reported. This follows another 125 cases on Monday, in what has become the highest daily coronavirus infection rate in two months.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that Israel is treating the rise as a “new outbreak,” adding that the coronavirus cabinet will develop a response plan. Addressing parliament, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said fines of “thousands of shekels” would also be levied against Israeli citizens or residents who travel to countries blacklisted as high COVID-19 risks.

The prime minister also discouraged citizens from traveling. “I am asking: If you don’t need to fly overseas, do not fly,” Bennett said while speaking to the press at Ben Gurion Airport.

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