Israel Warns of Emergency on New Strain11/26 06:10
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel is "on the
threshold of an emergency situation" on Friday after authorities detected the
country's first case of a new coronavirus variant in a traveler who returned
The Health Ministry said the traveler and two other suspected cases, all of
whom had been vaccinated, were placed in isolation.
A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists
say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among
young people in Gauteng, the country's most populous province.
At a Cabinet meeting convened Friday to discuss the new variant, Israeli
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said it is more contagious and spreads more
rapidly than the delta variant. He said authorities were still gathering
information on whether it evades vaccines or is deadlier.
"We are currently at the threshold of an emergency situation," he said. "I
ask everyone to be prepared and to fully join in the work around the clock."
Late Thursday, Israel declared South Africa and six other African nations to
be "red countries" from which foreign nationals are barred from traveling to
Israel. Israelis are prohibited from visiting those countries and those
returning from them must undergo a period of isolation.
Israel launched one of the world's first and most successful vaccination
campaigns late last year, and nearly half the population has received a booster
shot. Israel recently expanded the campaign to include children as young as 5.
But the country only recently managed to contain a wave of infections driven
by the highly contagious delta variant.
Israel has reported at least 8,182 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
It currently has more than 7,000 active cases, including 120 who are seriously
ill, according to the Health Ministry.