Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Nov. 27


The latest:

  • Liberals introduce bill to ban intimidation of patients and health-care workers.

Israel on Saturday said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country — making it the first to shut its borders completely in response to the potentially more contagious omicron coronavirus variant — and that it would also reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology in order to contain the spread of the variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days.

“Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country,” Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told local media, “and that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree.”

Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to quarantine, Bennett said. The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday. A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was imposed on Friday.

WATCH | What’s known about the omicron variant: 

What’s known about the omicron variant

The World Health Organization has declared a new variant of concern called omicron, first identified in South Africa. Scientists say there are a large number of mutations in the omicron variant, which means it could be more infectious and cause more severe illness. 3:00

The Shin Bet domestic security agency’s phone-tracking technology will be used to locate carriers of the new variant in order to curb its transmission to others, the statement said.

Used on and off since March 2020, the surveillance technology matched virus carriers’ locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine with whom they had come into contact. Israel’s Supreme Court this year limited the scope of its use after civil rights groups mounted challenges over privacy concerns.

The variant — which since first being detected in South Africa has also been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and Britain — has sparked global concern and a wave of travel curbs, although epidemiologists say travel curbs may be too late to stop omicron from circulating globally.

Israel has so far confirmed one case of omicron, with seven suspected cases. The Health Ministry has not said whether the confirmed case was vaccinated. Three of the seven suspected cases were fully vaccinated, the ministry said on Saturday, and three had not returned from travel abroad recently.

Also on Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was necessary to take “targeted and precautionary measures” after two people in the U.K. tested positive for a recently discovered coronavirus variant.

WATCH | U.K. tightens COVID-19 rules over omicron concerns:

U.K. tightens COVID-19 rules as world on alert over new omicron variant

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was necessary to take ‘targeted and precautionary measures’ after two people in the U.K. tested positive for a recently discovered coronavirus variant. 3:51

He told a news conference that the new rules will be reviewed in three weeks when scientists will know more about the variant, named omicron. It was first detected in South Africa this past week.

Johnson said anyone arriving in England will be asked to take a mandatory PCR test for COVID-19 on the second day and must self-isolate until they provide a negative test. And if someone tests positive for the omicron variant, their close contacts will have to self-isolate for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status.

He also said mask-wearing in shops and on public transit will be required and that the vaccination program will be accelerated, without providing specific details.


What’s happening across Canada


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday, more than 260.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.1 million.

In the Americas, France has postponed implementing a vaccination mandate for health workers in the Caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe after the measure spurred widespread protests in which police officers were injured and journalists attacked.

PHOTOS | France mulls more autonomy for Martinique, Guadeloupe amid COVID-19 riots: 

In Europe, hospitals in southern and eastern regions of Germany have warned they are running out of intensive care beds because of the large numbers of seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

In Africa, officials in South Africa say urgent preparations are needed to enable public hospitals to cope with a potential omicron-driven influx of patients needing intensive care.

In Asia, India restarted exports of vaccines to the global vaccine-sharing network COVAX for the first time since April, and producer Serum Institute of India forecast a substantial increase in supplies beginning early next year.





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