Israel Fears South African Variant Is Out Of Control

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Illustrative. The IDF coronavirus ward in Rambam hospital. (Photo: IDF spokesperson)

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South African variant cases in Israel have increased to almost 500, and health officials believe that it is spreading beyond control, with dozens of new cases being diagnosed every day, Haaretz reported.

Although Israel has closed its borders in an effort to prevent virus variants from entering the country, the South African variant entered months ago, with many Israelis bringing it back from the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. Now dozens of cases have been identified in random testing, meaning that cases are being diagnosed in Israelis who haven’t been abroad or in contact with those who traveled abroad.

Health officials are particularly worried about the South African variant as it is been proven to be more resistant to the current vaccines. Furthermore, those who have already recovered from the coronavirus can be reinfected with the variant.

There is a particularly high incidence of South African variant cases in the Triangle region in the center of the country, a concentration of Arab towns and villages, especially in the city of Taibeh, the Haaretz report said.

“Over 20 percent of newly confirmed cases of residents of Taibeh are carriers of the variant, and every day dozens more are being infected,” said Shmuel Ohayon, of the Health Ministry’s information center. “The situation has gotten out of control and we need to think epidemiologically how to handle it, and whether it is still possible at this stage.”

Three cases of the New York coronavirus variant were discovered in Israel this week. The New York variant includes the same mutation as the South African variant, the E484K mutation, which is more resistant again the vaccine than the original coronavirus, is more contagious and may possibly be more deadly.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)