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'Fifth wave of Covid has begun' says Israel PM Naftali Bennett adding new restrictions to be expected

Israel on Sunday banned travel to 10 more countries to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that the country is under the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic triggered by the new Omicron variant, adding that his cabinet was mulling new restrictions to stem the further spread of the virus.

"The fifth wave has begun," Bennett told a televised press conference, adding that new restrictions are expected to be issued in the next few days, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Prime Minister urged people to work from home if possible and called on citizens to get vaccinated, especially for children. "Do not leave children exposed and vulnerable," he said, adding that child vaccination rates in rural areas are as low as 3-5 percent.

Israel on Sunday banned travel to 10 more countries to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant.

The ban will take effect on Wednesday and will include the US, Canada, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, Germany, Hungary, Morocco and Belgium.

All Israelis returning from the banned countries, including vaccinated and recovered ones, must enter quarantine for at least seven days. Israel largely closed its international borders in the wake of the first report of the Omicron variant.

The current list of "red" countries already includes most of the African countries, eight European countries and the United Arab Emirates.

Also on Sunday, the Health Ministry announced 40 more Omicron cases, bringing the number of confirmed cases in Israel to 175.

Avoiding imposing lockdowns, the government has been focused on the vaccination campaign and the Green Pass scheme that allows entry for several public venues only to fully vaccinated people.

Israel rolled out a large-scale vaccination campaign, with more than 4.1 million of the country's 9.3 million people having received the third booster shot.

Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, the country has recorded a total of 1,355,491 Covid cases and 8,232 deaths .

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