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ISRAEL has slammed shut its border for ALL travellers in a bid to contain a new strain of the coronavirus which is popping up in countries across the world.

So far cases of the deadly Omicron Covid variant have appeared in Britain, Australia, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Czech Republic and Israel.

2Israel are not letting any travellers enter the countryCredit: AP 2

WHO first reported the new strain earlier this week after a case was reported in South Africa earlier this month, later calling it a "variant of concern," and that early evidence "suggests an increased risk of reinfection."

The new strain reportedly has a high number of mutations in the virus’ spike protein.

Now Israel has barred entry to all foreign nationals, mandating quarantine for all Israelis arriving from abroad and red-listing travel to 50 African countries. 

It also approved use of the Shin Bet internal security agency's controversial phone monitoring technology to perform contact tracing of individuals confirmed with the new omicron variant of coronavirus in Israel.

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While much remains to be learned about the new variant, researchers are concerned that it may be more resistant to the protection provided by vaccines and could mean that the pandemic lasts for longer than anticipated.

Elsewhere in the world, Australian officials confirmed Sunday that two overseas travelers arriving in Sydney are the first to test positive in the country for the omicron variant of the coronavirus, as nations around the world tightened controls against the worrying new strain.

The two passengers were among a group of 14 others who arrived in Australia from southern Africa on Saturday, They were asymptomatic and were both vaccinated for COVID-19. The remaining 12 have been placed in quarantine.

Neighboring New Zealand announced it was restricting travel from nine southern African countries because of the threat posed by the variant, and Japan widened its border controls to include more countries from the region.

Tourist-dependent Thailand, which only recently began loosening its tight border restrictions to leisure travelers from certain countries, announced a ban of its own on visitors from eight African counties. 

Similar restrictions took effect in the business hub of Singapore, which is barring entry and transit to anyone with a recent history of travel to seven southern African nations.

Sri Lanka banned disembarkation of passengers arriving from six African countries due to the detection of the omicron variant, as did the Maldives, the luxury Indian Ocean resort archipelago. 

In addition to the similar entry ban, quarantine officials in the Philippines have been ordered to track down recent travelers from southern Africa and put them in a quarantine.

And in the UK Sajid Javid yesterday confirmed two  TWO cases of the Omicron Covid variant have been reported.

The Health Secretary said the dreaded super-strain has been reported in Chelmsford and Nottingham as fears of a second Christmas lockdown grow.

Meanwhile, Switzerland on Saturday widened quarantine requirements to stem the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant to travellers arriving from Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Egypt and Malawi, where cases have been detected, its health ministry said.

On Friday, Switzerland banned direct flights from South Africa and the surrounding region due to the detection of a new COVID-19 variant, while also imposing restrictions on travel from other countries including Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.

'Horrific' Covid variant spreads to Israel as four countries now infected with super strain

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Tyler Herro questionable for Game 5 vs. Celtics; Jimmy Butler off Heat injury report

Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics at FTX Arena after missing Monday night’s Game 4 loss at TD Garden due to a groin strain.

Despite ESPN reporting Tuesday that Herro has the type of injury that typically requires an absence of two to four weeks, Herro was one of five players listed as questionable for Wednesday by the Heat, joined by P.J. Tucker (knee inflammation), Max Strus (hamstring strain), Gabe Vincent (hamstring strain) and Kyle Lowry (hamstring strain).

Those four all played in Monday’s Game 4, each struggling in the Heat’s 102-82 loss.

No longer on the Heat injury report is forward Jimmy Butler, who sat out the second half of the Heat’s Saturday night Game 3 victory at TD Garden due to knee soreness and then struggled to 3-of-14 shooting in Monday night’s Game 4 loss on the Celtics’ court.

“I’m straight. No excuse for how I played,” he said. “It don’t got nothing to do with my knee. I’ve just got to be better. I will be better. I’m not too worried about it.”

In addressing Herro’s absence, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said a goal was to get Herro to a better place for Game 5, with the best-of-seven series now tied 2-2.

The Heat did not practice Tuesday, and are bypassing a game-morning shootaround Wednesday, likely leaving the next Herro update for when Spoelstra addresses the media 105 minutes before the Game 5 tip.

The top concern on the Celtics’ injury report is guard Marcus Smart, who missed Game 4 with an ankle sprain suffered in Boston’s Game 3 loss Saturday night at TD Garden.

Smart is listed as questionable for Wednesday. He previously missed the Celtics’ Game 1 loss at FTX Arena with a midfoot sprain.

Monday’s game ended with Celtics point guard Derrick White, who started in place of Smart, seemingly grabbing at his hamstring.

“He said a little cramping,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “So Derrick is fine.”

White was not on Tuesday’s injury report.

Then there is Celtics center Robert Williams III, who was impactful on both ends Monday after being sidelined by knee soreness Saturday, as well as for Game 1.

“It’s just swelling a little bit, stiffening up on me a little,” Williams said. “Taking it day by day, spending a lot of time with the trainers, obviously, throwing a lot of scenarios at it, see how it responds.”

Williams is listed as questionable.

The only other player on the Celtics’ injury report is guard Sam Houser, who has not played in the series as he rehabs a shoulder issue.


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