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COVID-19

Israel closely monitoring new coronavirus strain, could affect tourism plan

Officials cautious yet not alarmed – so far

A worker administers a COVID-19 rapid test at a Magen David Adom testing center in Lod, Oct. 17, 2021. (Photo: Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Just as Israeli health officials have more or less declared that the fourth COVID wave is over in Israel, a new strain been discovered in the Jewish state: the AY4.2 Delta strain variant.

Israel said the strain was brought in by an 11-year-old boy who tested positive on his return from Moldova.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened an emergency meeting Wednesday night with the Health minister, Health Ministry director-general, Public Health Services director and other health professionals.

While little is currently known about the new variant and whether it is highly contagious as officials say Delta itself is, Bennett said that developments must be closely monitored in order to maintain Israel’s current success in tamping down the last surge of the virus.

Israel is finally experiencing some relief from the previous wave when records were set for daily COVID infections late this summer. Now, despite more than 8,000 deaths recorded this week, serious cases have dropped to below 400 and daily infections are hovering around 1,000 after seeing more than 12,000 a day over a month ago.

According to the Prime Minister's Media Advisor, in the coming days Israel will conduct an epidemiological investigation on every case of the new strain; liaise with countries where the new variant already exists; update the tourism plan; and “significantly boost genetic sequencing capabilities in order to increase information-gathering abilities.”

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