Israel bans travel to Switzerland over Omicron concerns

The Swiss government fears that hospital intensive care units may be over-run as the new Omicron variant spreads. Keystone / Anthony Anex

Israel added Switzerland and the United States to its "no-fly" list on Monday over concerns about the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

This content was published on December 20, 2021

From Tuesday December 21 at 10pm, Israelis will need special permission to fly to Switzerland, the United States and eight other countries amid the rapid, global spread of the new variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office announced the decision following a Cabinet vote. A parliamentary committee is expected to give the measure final approval.

Israel has seen a surge in new cases of the more infectious coronavirus variant in recent weeks, and began closing its borders and restricting travel in late November.

Other countries that were approved to be added to the travel ban are Canada, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Portugal and Turkey.

Swiss Omicron concerns

Switzerland is currently undergoing a fifth wave of the pandemicExternal link. It has also confirmed multiple cases of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 on its territory. Switzerland recorded 9,941 new coronavirus infections on Friday with 1,627 hospitalisations and 294 patients in intensive care. 

On Sunday, Geneva University Hospital (HUG), one of the largest hospitals in Switzerland, indicated that around 20% of positive Covid tests in canton Geneva were the Omicron variant. This figure was zero per cent on December 8.

According to scientists at the University of Basel, the Omicron variant is almost three times more transmissible than the Delta variant. The Swiss government fears that hospital intensive care units may be over-run as the new variant spreads.

Omicron, first detected last month in southern Africa and
Hong Kong, has raced around the globe. The World Health Organization reported Saturday that Omicron has been detected in 89 countries. It says Covid-19 cases involving the variant are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in places with community transmission.

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