Jerusalem, Apr 22 (PTI) Israel issued a travel advisory on Thursday warning Israelis, including those who have recovered from or been vaccinated against COVID-19, to refrain from travelling to India, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey because of high COVID morbidity rates in the seven countries.

The statement from the Israeli health ministry also noted the presence of alarming COVID variants in the seven countries, and recommended that the public avoid all travel outside of Israel if possible, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

The Health Ministry's Director-General Chezy Levy said that unvaccinated foreign workers and students from India must quarantine in state-run quarantine hotels, it said.

With the number of Israelis vaccinated against COVID-19 topping five million and the country experiencing fewer than 100 new daily cases, the government ended its outdoor mask mandate on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Israel said last week it will start allowing the limited entry of vaccinated tourist groups as of May 23.

The return of foreigner tourists after Israel had closed its borders at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020 would boost the country's economy, which contracted 2.5 per cent in 2020, and battered tourism sector.

Since Israel entered its first lockdown in March 2020, non-residents – with rare exceptions – have not been allowed into the country. In January, as part of the third lockdown, even Israeli citizens were prevented from entering. However, that particular restriction was lifted in March. PTI

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