Israel bans travel to US after Omicron cases found on Miami flight

Israel has announced a ban on citizens travelling to the United States amid concerns about Omicron, the new Covid variant, and rising infections in both countries.

The ban will come into affect at 10pm on Tuesday, Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennet said on Sunday night, with eight other countries joining a “no fly” list.

It will mean travel from Israel to more than 50 countries is forbidden, and those returning from red-listed destinations will be required to quarantine upon returning.

Special permission will meanwhile be required for anyone wanting to fly from Israel to a red-listed country.

The announcement by Israel on Sunday night came hours after a flight from Miami was found to have 17 passengers infected with Omicron, according to Haaretz .

Covid infections were reportedly found by Israel’s health ministry among 10 per cent of those onboard the flight, after taking tests upon arrival into Israel. It remains unclear how many were onboard.

In addition to the US, the following countries have been added to a “no fly list”: Italy, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Canada, Switzerland and Turkey.

Israel had already banned tourists from entering the country on 25 November, and has imposed three-to-14-day quarantine orders for Israelis returning from abroad.

Mr Bennet said during Sunday’s televised address that cases of Omicron could be as high as 400 to 600 within a week, according to Haartez, as the virus spreads.

Israel has reported 134 confirmed Omicron cases and another 307 suspected cases, the health ministry said. Of these, 167 were symptomatic, it said.

The US has meanwhile found Omicron cases in 44 states, and officials expect the virus to spread further.

Additional reporting by Reuters.