Miss Universe 2021 contestant tests positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Israel

The global beauty pageant will go ahead as planned, despite a ban on entry for foreigners to prevent the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant

Miss Universe contestants arrive at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, east of Tel Aviv, on November 28, 2021. AFP
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A contestant at the Miss Universe 2021 pageant in Eilat, Israel has tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the finals on December 12.

The Miss Universe organisation did not identify the contestant who tested positive or her nationality. It said on Monday that the beauty queen tested positive upon arrival in Israel and was taken to a government-run isolation hotel. She was fully vaccinated and tested prior to her departure from her home country.

Most of the 80 contestants have arrived in Israel, organisers said, days after the country banned the entry of all foreigners in an effort to stave off the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said on Sunday that the global contest, which is celebrating its 70th year this year, will go ahead as planned and participants would be granted waivers while possibly undergoing PCR testing every 48 hours, along with other precautionary measures.

"This is an event that will be broadcast in 174 countries, a very important event, an event that Eilat, too, is very much in need of," he said before the weekly cabinet meeting, where ministers were due to vote on the anti-Omicron measures. "We will know how to manage this event. So, by using the waivers committee, we will have events like this, to which the country already committed itself and cannot cancel."

Morocco and the UAE are also expected to send representatives this year, while a new Miss USA is to be crowned soon. On Monday, organisers also named the first contestant from Bahrain, Manar Nadeem Deyani, a fashion design student living in Dubai.

"I maybe the shortest candidate in the history of Miss Universe but I stand tall representing a country of love, peace and kindness - your first ever Miss Universe Bahrain," Deyani, 25, posted on Instagram announcing her participation.

Israel has so far confirmed one Omicron case, and authorities said on Sunday they were putting together a safety plan for Miss Universe and could limit admission to the pageant from countries deemed to be high-risk.

– Additional reporting by AP

Scroll through the gallery below for pictures of reigning Miss Universe Andrea Meza touring Jerusalem's Old City:

Updated: December 13, 2021, 5:04 AM
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