The Health Ministry said that ten cases of the new Delta offshoot variant AY3 were found in Israel on Thursday.
Eight of the cases were detected in people returning to Israel from abroad, while the other two were found in country.
A senior official in the ministry said that the appearance of AY3 is “worrying” and that if it spreads it will bring Israel that much closer to a lockdown in the coming weeks.
The AY3 is being closely watched around the world to see whether it is more contagious or deadly than the original Delta. So far, there isn’t enough evidence to know.
Meanwhile, on the brighter side of pandemic news, a local expert said on Thursday that recent data is cause for some optimism.
Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told Channel 12 of a slowdown in the rise of serious COVID-19 cases, attributing it to the new drive to give booster shots to everyone over 50.
“In all honesty we don’t know what will win out, the campaign or the infection rate, but the last four days bring optimism… I believe around the first or second week of September we’ll halt [rising morbidity].”
Segal favors extending the booster shots to all those over 40, a proposal to be decided by a health panel this evening.