An Israeli returning to the country from the African nation of Malawi this week was confirmed as infected with a highly-mutated new strain of COVID-19. Two other returning Israelis are also suspected of having contracted the new strain and are currently in quarantine.
Still being called by its scientific name of B.1.1.529, the new coronavirus strain combines the ‘alpha,’ ‘beta’ and ‘delta’ variants and has 15 mutations. Health Ministry officials who briefed the government on Friday morning called it a “super variant.”
Fears are that the current vaccinations that have been administered to most of Israel’s population will be wholly inadequate to halt a new wave of infections by this mutated strain.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett added a number of African countries to the list of places from which Israel will not grant entry for the time being, but it might already be too late.
Bennett and other top government officials held an urgent meeting on Friday morning and said they would continue evaluating the situation and determine the proper course of action soon.
“We are currently on the verge of an emergency situation, I ask everyone to be fully prepared and mobilized for work around the clock,” Bennett told his government.