Israel added the United States to its no-fly list because of concerns about the spread of the new variant of Omicron coronavirus.

In line with recommendations from the Ministry of Health, Israeli cabinet ministers voted Monday to put the United States, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Canada, Switzerland and Turkey on the no-fly list.

In Europe, Germany has ruled out a Christmas lockdown but warned that a fifth wave of COVID-19 could no longer be stopped amid the spread of Omicron.

Now the leading infectious disease expert in the United States warned that a new wave of COVID-19 could strain hospital capacities.

“One thing that is very clear … is (Omicron’s) extraordinary ability to spread,” Fauci told NBC News. “It just rages through the world.”

Here are the latest updates:

43 seconds ago (12:00 GMT)

Dubai Airport is fully operational for the first time since the pandemic

Dubai Airport, one of the busiest travel hubs in the world, is fully operational for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March 2020, officials said on Monday.

Sections closed in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis are opening as the United Arab Emirates sees a surge in infections for fear of the new Omicron variant.

“After the opening of the last phase … the airport is 100 percent in operation, all terminals, waiting halls, lounges, restaurants and retail stores are now open,” said a statement from the UAE’s official WAM news agency.

Last year, Dubai International Airport reported a 70 percent drop in traffic from more than 86 million travelers in 2019 to 25.9 million in 2020.

34 minutes ago (11:27 GMT)

S.Korea’s Moon Calls for More Beds for Coronavirus Patients in Serious Condition

South Korea’s hospitals need to devote more beds and resources to treating coronavirus patients, President Moon Jae-in said as severe infections surging near record highs.

“Last year we prepared for a surge in patient numbers by almost doubling the number of coronavirus treatment beds and expanding home care, but it wasn’t enough,” Moon spokesman Park Kyung-mee quoted him as saying.

Over the weekend, intensive care bed occupancy rates for COVID-19 patients were nearly 88 percent in Seoul and more than 79 percent across the country, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

That number is above the 75 percent threshold that health officials said would trigger emergency responses.

1 hour ago (11:00 GMT)

Rafael Nadal from Spain celebrates a point during the Madrid Open tennis match against Stan Wawrinka from Switzerland in Madrid, Spain, Friday, May 10, 2019. [File: Bernat Armangue/AP Photo]

Tennis player Nadal tests positive for COVID-19 after Abu Dhabi event

Rafa Nadal tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in Spain after making his comeback after an injury at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last week, the Spaniard said.

“I have some uncomfortable moments, but I hope that I will gradually improve. I’m home now and have reported the result to those who have contacted me, ”said Nadal in a statement.

1 hour ago (10:46 GMT)

Ireland Doesn’t Expect To Impose Additional COVID Restrictions: Deputy Prime Minister

The Irish government does not expect to have tougher COVID-19 restrictions in the coming weeks, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said days after the government ordered bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m.

“If we have to, we will do whatever is necessary … but we do not assume that it will be necessary,” Varadkar told the Irish broadcaster RTE.

He said he “hope and expect” that the expected high rates of infection from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus would not lead to hospital admissions to the same extent as in previous waves.

2 hours ago (10:21 GMT)

Omicron death toll climbs to 12 with no Christmas restrictions guarantees

Twelve people in the UK have died from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, and another 104 people have been hospitalized, said British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.

When asked whether the government would impose further restrictions before Christmas, Raab told Times Radio: “I just can’t give firm guarantees.”

“In assessing the situation, we are relying very heavily on the real world data that comes through and it will take a little longer to assess this critical Omicron severity issue,” he said.

People walk across Westminster Bridge amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain, Dec. 15, 2021. [Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

2 hours ago (09:52 GMT)

Coronavirus cluster connected to the US base in Japan grows to at least 180

A piling of coronavirus infections related to a U.S. military base in Japan has grown to at least 180, the Japanese government said, raising fears about the spread of the virus in the community.

A Japanese worker at Camp Hansen on the southern island of Okinawa was found positive with the Omicron variant last Friday, Japanese officials said.

The grassroots cluster now has 180 cases, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a regular press conference, although it wasn’t clear how many were from the highly contagious Omicron variant.

“The Japanese government once again calls on the US side to ensure that all workers at the US military bases in Japan follow the instructions and take strict measures in the event of violations,” said Matsuno.

2 hours ago (09:34 GMT)

Ramaphosa back to work after COVID-19: presidency

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa wears a face mask as he watches on a visit by Prime Minister of the Ivory Coast, Patrick Achi, to the port of Abidjan, Ivory Coast on December 3, 2021. [Luc Gnago/Reuters]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has returned to work after a week of self-isolation due to a positive test for COVID-19, his office said.

Ramaphosa, who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in February, tested positive for COVID-19 on December 12 and was treated for mild symptoms.

“The president has returned to his service and will chair the last cabinet meeting for 2021 on Wednesday,” the presidency said in a statement.

3 hours ago (08:31 GMT)

Thai authority approves Pfizer vaccine for use in children aged 5 to 11 years

The Food and Drug Administration of Thailand announced that it has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and eleven.

The Comirnaty vaccine, which was the first to be approved in Thailand for this age group, will be given in two 10-microgram doses 21 days apart, the drug agency said in a statement.

4 hours ago (08:13 GMT)

Israel prohibits travel to the US and Canada because of the Omicron variant

Israeli ministers agreed on a travel ban to the US, Canada and eight other countries amid the rapid global spread of the Omicron variant.

The rare move to redlist the US comes amid rising coronavirus infections in Israel, marking a change in pandemic practices between the two nations with close diplomatic ties. The U.S. will join a growing list of European countries and other travel destinations that Israelis are prohibited from entering and from which returning travelers must remain in quarantine.

A parliamentary committee should finally approve the measure. Once approved, the travel ban will come into effect on Wednesday morning at midnight.

Israel on Sunday approved entry bans for foreigners and the use of controversial contact tracking technology as part of its efforts to crack down on a new variant of the coronavirus [Ariel Schalit/AP Photo]

5 hours ago (07:19 GMT)

Germany tightened restrictions on British travelers

UK travelers entering Germany must have a negative test and a two-week quarantine regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

The Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases (RKI) – a federal health agency – announced the new rules as it classified Great Britain as the virus variant with the highest risk level for COVID-19.

German nationals and residents are still allowed to enter from the UK.

5 hours ago (06:48 GMT)

EU Medicines Agency decides on Novavax vaccine

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said its Human Medicines Committee would hold an extraordinary meeting to decide whether to approve a COVID vaccination through Novavax and “share the result”.

The vaccination of Novavax, a protein-based vaccine used worldwide to protect against many childhood diseases, would be the fifth coronavirus vaccination approved for the European Union.

Novavax says its vaccine showed 90.4 percent effectiveness against COVID-19 in a North American study.

Chief Executive Officer Stanley Erck said the company looks forward to offering an additional vaccine option in Europe, building on a proven, well-understood technology platform.

5 hours ago (06:45 GMT)

Sydney opposes calls for hard curbs to be restored

Despite the threat of the more easily transmissible variant of Omicron, life in Sydney almost normalized last week, with almost all of the hard curbs lifted before Christmas as vaccination rates are among the highest in the world.

“There will always be new variants of this virus,” said Dominic Perrottet, the prime minister of the most populous state of New South Wales.

“The pandemic is not going to go away and we have to learn to live with it,” he told reporters. “We also need to move away from fear and move on to hope and confidence.”

5 hours ago (06:44 GMT)

Thailand reports first local Omicron case

Thailand is considering reintroducing mandatory quarantine for foreign visitors amid concerns about the spread of Omicron as the Ministry of Health reported the first case of local transmission of the country’s variant of coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health will propose abolishing a quarantine exemption for vaccinated visitors and returning to hotel quarantine and a “sandbox” program that allows free movement in certain places, said its minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

The proposal was fueled by concerns about the spread of Omicron, Anutin told Inside Thailand television program, adding that it will be presented “soon” to the government’s COVID-19 task force.