The closure of Ben Gurion airport was urged by PM Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday, Dec. 20 as a new coronavirus strain emerging in the UK and other countries was proving 70pc more transmissible than the first covid 19. Shocked by word of the variant, on the first day of a countrywide vaccination program, Israel’s coronavirus cabinet ordered incoming travelers from the UK to be transferred under police escort to coronavirus hotels for 12-days’ quarantine. Similar instructions were issued for flights incoming from Denmark, Australia, South Africa and the Netherlands, unless they are turned back.
The buses left the airport with 80 arrivals for quarantine hotels in Jerusalem, but 30 Israelis are barricaded at the airport and resisting evacuation. Another 270 Israel-bound passengers are due to land unless they are turned back.
Europe is shutting its borders to UK travelers, having suspended flights and trains to and from Britain.. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control” with “rocketing infection” and suggested parts of England will be stuck in the new, highest tier of restrictions until a vaccine is rolled out on a massive scale.
More than 16 million Britons are now required to stay at home after a lockdown came into force Sunday in London and southeast England. The government scrapped plans to relax rules on socializing at Christmas. Most of Europe is under lockdown for Christmas and London’s West End, once the world’s most vibrant shopping center, looks like a ghost town.
Scientists are racing to ensure that the vaccines for covid-19 work for the new variant. Israel’s coronavirus cabinet, which was engaged in discussing stringent curbs on rising infection in Israel, were horrified when the news came in of the new variant known as VUI-202012/01. While extremely contagious, its symptoms appear to be relatively mild. The strain was first detected in London in September with full genome sequencing being returned in October.