Israel has identified a case of a Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations first detected in South Africa, the health ministry said on Friday.
“The variant discovered in southern African states has been identified in Israel,” the ministry said, adding it was recorded “in a person who returned from Malawi”.
Two more cases were detected in “people returning from abroad”, it said, adding that they had been placed in quarantine.
The three people were all vaccinated, the health ministry said, without specifying the number of doses or the type of vaccine.
News of its spread to Israel comes a day after scientists in South Africa said they had detected the new B.1.1.529 strain with at least 10 mutations, compared with two for Delta.
The variant was of “serious concern” and had been blamed for a surge in infection numbers, authorities in South Africa said on Thursday.
It had also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong among travellers from South Africa, they said.
The World Health Organisation is due to hold a meeting later Friday to decide if the new strain should be designated a variant of “interest” or of “concern”.
Israel had already late Thursday placed on its “red list” the southern African nations of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe because of the discovery of the variant.
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