Israel empowered health officials to quarantine people who might be exposed to especially infectious virus variants, even if they had already been vaccinated.
The alarming policy was instituted on Wednesday.
Israel was touted as a successful model for vaccination as a weapon against the coronavirus after the country began to reopen its economy. The country boasted a 56% vaccination rate, with 5.1 million fully vaccinated and 5.5 million with at least one vaccine dose.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned on Tuesday of new outbreaks from various virus variants.
The new directive says a self-quarantine for 14 days could be imposed for those who came in “close contact with a carrier of a dangerous virus variant.”
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that people traveling to countries black-listed due to the virus could also face steep fines.
Israeli officials are worried about outbreaks of the delta variant which first appeared in India. Some are sprouting at schools, prompting calls for teens and children to be vaccinated.
Israel reported 840k total cases of coronavirus, with 6,428 deaths from the pandemic.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the delta variant was the “greatest threat” to the efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Cases of that variant have more than doubled in the U.S. over the last two weeks. Fauci said that the spread of the delta variant in the U.S. was mimicking that in the U.K. where 95% of new cases were due to the variant.
Health officials in India have also identified a second variant they call “delta plus,” which could have increased transmissibility.
Here’s more about variant outbreaks in Israel:
Warning over Delta variant spread in Israel