Israel has increased the quarantine period for people infected with the ‘super-mutant’ Omicron variant of the coronavirus over suspicions they could remain contagious longer than other Covid patients.
Starting from Thursday, Omicron carriers will have to quarantine for 14 days, instead of the 10 days mandated for people infected with other strains, the Israeli Health Ministry announced.
They will also have to be symptom-free for the last three days of their two-week isolation period to be eligible to receive a certificate of recovery from the virus.
The measures are being introduced “in light of the suspicion that verified carriers of the Omicron variant may be contagious for a longer period than observed in cases of other variants,” the ministry said in a statement. It did not specify how long the new rules will be in effect.
Israel’s response to the Omicron variant has been one of the harshest, closing its borders to foreign travelers and designating most of Africa – not just the continent’s south like many other countries have done – a ‘red zone’.
However, the measures have not prevented Omicron from slipping into Israel. The country has already registered at least 21 cases of the new strain, which is believed to be more transmissible than other variants, but does not appear to cause more severe cases.
Omicron has a record number of mutations and was discovered in South Africa last month, causing panic and travel bans around the globe.
Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in Israel, with 794 registered on Tuesday, the highest number since late October.