Israel Mandates Longer Quarantine for Omicron Carriers

Health Ministry says people infected with the omicron COVID variant will have to quarantine for 14 days instead of 10, as it may be contagious for longer than others

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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People stand in line at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Sunday.
People stand in line at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Sunday.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Israelis diagnosed with the omicron variant of the coronavirus will now have to quarantine for longer than those infected with other variants, the Health Ministry announced Wednesday. 

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Starting Thursday, carriers of the omicron variant will have to quarantine for 14 days, as opposed to 10 days for those with other variants. They will receive a certificate of recovery only if they have not shown symptoms during the last three of those days. 

The change was decided upon in light of concern that omicron cases may be contagious for a longer period than other cases, the Health Ministry said. 

The most recent update from the Health Ministry on omicron was on Monday, when it said 21 cases had been diagnosed and more were suspected.

Health Ministry data released Wednesday showed that coronavirus infections had increased in the week following Hanukkah festivities.

The COVID infection rate known as the R number – the average number of people each coronavirus carrier infects – has risen, with each carrier infecting an average of 1.07 people. That number is calculated from data from 10 days prior, so it does not reflect the jump in infection after the holiday.  

BioNTech and Pfizer said on Wednesday a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralize the new omicron variant in a laboratory test and they could deliver an omicron-based vaccine in March 2022 if needed.

In the first official statement from vaccine manufacturers on the likely efficacy of their shot against omicron, BioNTech and Pfizer said that two vaccine doses resulted in significantly lower neutralizing antibodies but that a third dose of their vaccine increased the neutralizing antibodies by a factor of 25.

Reuters contributed to this article. 

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