The Health Ministry on Friday announced Israel’s first case of a new variant of COVID-19 that was first detected in South Africa and that has the potential to spread very rapidly, according to scientists.
“The type that was discovered in the countries of South Africa was discovered in Israel. The Ministry of Health said in a statement that it fears “two additional cases of people who have returned from abroad” and they have been placed in confinement.
The ministry said that these three were vaccinated against Covid-19, without indicating the number of doses or the type of vaccine.
In the wake of this announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called a meeting at 11 am local time (9 am GMT) with public health officials and his government to assess the health situation.
On the night of Thursday to Friday, Israel placed South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini on its health “red list” after announcing the discovery of the new variant. , which was first discovered in South Africa.
Scientists in South Africa, currently called B.1.1.529, have declared this variant with multiple mutations highly contagious, as they see there are signs of a new wave of the epidemic.
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However, the latter does not yet know what the effectiveness of the current vaccines will be against this alternative, whose danger is the subject of a meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday.
The Hebrew state was one of the first countries to launch, in December 2020, a massive vaccination campaign thanks to an agreement with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which gave it quick access to millions of doses paid in the widespread exchange of vaccine effect data.
This campaign resulted in the double vaccination of more than 5.77 million of about nine million Israelis, or more than 80% of adults.
The authorities then launched a campaign for a booster dose, which has already been given to more than four million people. The vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 began this week, and the government is seeking, among other things, to curb new sources of pollution in schools.
“Vaccinating children protects them and their parents,” said Naftali Bennett, who accompanied her 9-year-old son David to get the vaccine in Herzliya, a suburb of Tel Aviv.
The Israeli government relaxed most containment measures in the spring and opened its borders to vaccinate foreign tourists in early November. The sanitary mask remains mandatory inside shops, as well as the sanitary corridor to enter restaurants and bars.
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