Israel reports 1st case of new Covid-19 variant

The Israeli Ministry of Health on Friday reported the first case of the new heavily mutated Covid-19 variant known as B.1.1.529 that was detected in South Africa and other countries.

The strain was discovered in a genomic sequencing test that took an Israeli who returned from Malawi, the Ministry said.

There is also a suspicion of more cases of infection with the strain, of two Israelis who also returned from abroad, it added.

The Ministry said it waits for the results of their sequencing tests, and until then, the two are staying in quarantine.

The three Israelis have been vaccinated against the coronavirus in the past, it added.

It said the epidemiologic investigation is underway to detect more cases of the new strain, Xinhua news agency reported.

On Thursday night, Israel announced a ban on entry of travellers from seven African countries following the detection of the variant in South Africa.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz thus decided to list South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini as “red countries.”

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