Hours after Israel’s Tourism Minister called for an end to COVID testing at Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel’s Health Ministry announced on Monday that three cases of a new COVID variant have been discovered in travelers who arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport last week.
The new variant is the BA.4 Omicron subvariant which is currently spreading in South Africa, leading to an increase in the infection rate there.
According to the ministry, one of the travelers had returned from South Africa, one from Singapore, and one from Italy. “Beyond that, there is not yet any further information about this variant and the Health Ministry is continuing to monitor and update [the public] as needed,” the ministry stated.
Earlier on Monday, Israel’s Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov called for an end to COVID testing at Ben-Gurion Airport and a Channel 12 News report said that the Health Ministry is considering the move.
However, following the discovery of the new variant in Israel, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said: “This indicates the importance of the tests we carry out at Ben-Gurion. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet taken leave of COVID, not us nor the world. We survived the Omicron, not COVID. If we need to take new steps, we’ll take them.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)