Israel bans arrivals from most of Africa over new coronavirus variant

Israel has identified the first cases of a new COVID-19 variant, first found in South Africa and neighboring countries, prompting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday to announce a ban on arrivals from most African countries and warn that the country is on the brink of a state of emergency.

Following a meeting with health officials, Bennett announced that subjects to approval by the coronavirus cabinet, African countries, except for those in north Africa, would be classified as “red,” meaning non-Israelis will not be able to enter if they departed from those countries.

Bennett said the new variant was highly contagious and spread much more rapidly than the delta variant.