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Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry claimed Sunday that the country had no detected cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant and stated that the emergence of new variants was the result of countries being lax in their precautions and of people refusing to get vaccinated against the disease.

The Health Ministry stated that 22.3 million citizens had been vaccinated against the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia.

The Omicron variant was first detected last week in Saudi Arabia and has sparked fears around the world that the new strain could evade anti-bodies due to the 38 mutations on its spike protein.

Last night, Israel's Coronavirus Cabinet decided to close the country to tourists for two weeks in response to the discovery of the Omicron variant.

The new restrictions would require everyone returning from abroad to quarantine, with those vaccinated or recently recovered required to quarantine for three days, and everyone else required to quarantine for the full period. However, the Knesset must approve the quarantine requirement for people who have been vaccinated.

At least one case of the new strain has been reported in Israel, with seven suspected cases.

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