The Health Ministry said on Tuesday that it has identified three cases of the New York strain of the coronavirus, the first time the mutation has been found in Israel.
The ministry said all three cases were in the same family.
Kan News reported that ministry officials believe the three came into contact with someone who recently returned from New York and there were concerns others may already have been infected.
Officials are reportedly concerned the variant could already be spreading undetected in Israel.
Furthermore, the ministry was said to be weighing new restrictions on the fully vaccinated family members of people found to be carrying the virus. According to the outlet, vaccinated people could be asked to undergo testing or to quarantine, regulations they are currently exempt from.
In addition, the ministry said two cases of the B.1.525 variant have been found. The variant is thought to originate in Africa and has similar characteristics to the South African mutation, which is more resistant to vaccines than other variants. The mutation has already been detected in the United Kingdom, United States, Nigeria and Jordan.
New variants have been showing up throughout the pandemic, but three have so far been considered the most worrisome and been designated “variants of concern.” They were first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil but have spread to other countries.
The highly contagious British mutation now accounts for almost all new coronavirus infections in Israel.