Israel reports first COVID-19 case involving ‘worrying’ Africa variant

  • Israel has reported its first COVID-19 case involving a “worrying” new coronavirus variant.
  • The B.1.1.529 variant was discovered in a person traveling to Israel from Malawi, the Israeli Ministry of Health said.
  • The variant that appears to have emerged in southern Africa concerns experts.

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Israel has identified its first COVID-19 case involving a “worrying” new coronavirus variant that is spreading rapidly in southern Africa.

The variant, known as B.1.1.529, was found in a person returning to Israel from Malawi, Israel’s Ministry of Health announced Friday.

Two other people who have returned from abroad may also carry the coronavirus variant, the ministry said. They have been quarantined, the ministry said.

Health authorities in South Africa said on Thursday that 82 cases of the B.1.1.529 variant had been detected in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, Insiders reported Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce.

The variant has a high number of mutations in a combination that experts have not seen before, according to Insider’s report.

Experts are affected the unusual mutations of the variant can make it more contagious and able to escape antibodies produced by vaccines and in antibody treatments.

The B.1.1.529 variant has spread rapidly across South Africa and has become the most common cause of new COVID-19 cases in less than two weeks, according to a graph tweeted by the director of the country’s Center for Epidemic Control and Innovation.

Ravi Gupta, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at Cambridge University, said on Twitter on Wednesday that the new coronavirus variant was “worrying, and I have not said that since Delta.”

Israel announced Thursday that it is restricting travel to and from southern Africa due to the B.1.1.529 variant, Reuters reported.

Israel has reported more than 1.3 million COVID-19 cases and over 8,000 deaths since January 2020, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

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