Israel Confirms First Locally Acquired Case of Omicron Variant

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel on Sunday confirmed its first community-acquired Omicron coronavirus variant infection.

According to the Health Ministry, the patient was diagnosed with the strain after coming in contact with another confirmed Omicron carrier who returned from South Africa, where the new variant was first reported.

The ministry also reported that Israel’s Omicron caseload rose from seven to 11.

Among the newly diagnosed Omicron patients are two travelers who returned from France and have had three doses of the Pfizer vaccine, one traveler returning from the United States who had received three Moderna vaccine doses, and one traveler returning from South Africa who has received three doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The ministry also said that an additional 24 people are suspected of having contracted the highly mutated virus strain, pending lab confirmation.

Among these suspected cases, 16 were defined as “unprotected,” people who have recovered from COVID-19 more than six months ago, are unvaccinated or have yet to receive their booster shot.

The ministry said that among the country’s 35 confirmed and suspected cases, unvaccinated people were more prone to demonstrate symptoms.

Among the unvaccinated, nine experienced symptoms and 10 did not. Among the vaccinated, only three patients exhibited COVID-19 symptoms while 11 did not. Information on two other cases remains unavailable.

Fears over the new Omicron variant led Israel to shut its borders to tourists last week and ban Israelis from traveling to most African nations.