Four Cases of S. African COVID-19 Variant Found in Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
A health-care worker holding a test sample at a testing site in Rehovot. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The Health Ministry said that four people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus strain first detected in South Africa, with dozens of cases of the new British variant already recorded.

The infections were detected in travelers arriving from South Africa.

The two new strains are, reportedly, more infectious than previous variants of the virus.

The Kneset’s Coronavirus Committee on Thursday approved the Health Ministry’s proposal requiring citizens returning to Israel from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, or Lesotho to enter quarantine in designated state-run hotels for two weeks.

A laboratory study conducted by Pfizer said last week its vaccine appeared to work against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in both the U.K. and South Africa.

The not-yet peer-reviewed study by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch indicated the vaccine was effective in neutralizing virus with the so-called N501Y mutation of the spike protein.