Live updates: Omicron variant and coronavirus news πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯

Israel is adding 10 more countries, including the US and Canada, to its β€œred” no-fly list, as it braces for a fifth wave of coronavirus infections.

Subject to ministerial approval, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey will be added to the β€œred” list at midnight on Tuesday. The list already includes much of Africa, the UK, Denmark, France, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

β€œTime is running out,” warned Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in remarks at the beginning of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. β€œThe wave is coming. Every family should be prepared, every person should make sure they’re vaccinated with three shots, and that their children are vaccinated.”

On Saturday night, it was announced that Bennett was canceling Sunday evening’s annual reception with journalists, diplomats and others, β€œdue to growing concerns over a potential new Covid wave in Israel.”

Meanwhile, the country is ramping up its vaccination campaign for children, with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz telling Kan Radio they would be β€œstorming” the education system this week, increasing the number of vaccination centers in schools 10-fold, to 500. He added there were some indications the booster shot’s efficacy has waned, and that a fourth vaccination dose might be required, especially for the elderly.

In a bid to stem the spread of the rapidly-spreading omicron variant, Israel has banned most foreigners from entering the country.

Israelis are for the most part banned from visiting countries on its β€œred” list; travelers returning from them need to self-isolate for seven days, first in quarantine hotels, and then, on receipt of a negative PCR test, at home, providing they sign a contract agreeing to have their movements tracked.

Despite these measures, Israel’s Covid-19 numbers have been creeping higher, with an additional 875 cases recorded on Friday, the highest number in at least a month, before dropping to 372 on Saturday, due to lower weekend testing rates (in late summer, infections peaked at more than 10,000 a day). Serious cases rose by one, to 81. Less than three months ago, at the height of the fourth wave, they exceeded 750.

More context: The number of people contracting the Omicron variant also continues to grow. According to the Health Ministry, 134 people have now been identified as contracting the Omicron variant, up from 89 a few days ago.

There was a β€œhigh suspicion” of omicron in more than 300 additional cases. The R coefficient, the number of people infected by each Covid-19 sufferer, remains just above one, a threshold it crossed more than a month ago.

β€œIf what is happening in Europe happens here,” Dr. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science, told Israel Channel 12. “We will see a doubling of infections every two or three days.”

Live updates: Omicron variant and coronavirus news

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