Cases of UK COVID-19 variant found across Israel

January 4, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Several cases of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom and which is rapidly spreading around the world were found in Israel.

Policemen enforcing the 3rd COVID-19 lockdown at a temporary roadblock near Mesubim Junction in central Israel. Ramat Gan, Dec 29, 2020. Photo by Eitan Elhadez-Barak/TPS

British scientists have warned that the new variant of the Coronavirus is more infectious and is spreading more rapidly. Analysis suggested that the new variant could increase the R number, which indicates if an epidemic is growing or shrinking, by 0.4 or more, making it 70% more contagious.

The Ministry of Health stated Sunday evening that 96 sequencing results performed to identify the UK variant yielded seven positive samples, from the localities of Givat Zeev, Jerusalem, and Bnei Brak.

Previous sequencing results revealed cases in Beit Shemesh, Kseifeh and other localities across the country.

Several cases were discovered in Efrat, leading to the immediate closure of the entire educational system.

A total of 30 Israelis were found to be infected with the UK variant, of whom only six recently returned from abroad.

Another 300 samples from all over the country are currently being processed, as part of the national system for genetic sequencing established by the Ministry of Health.

Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein stated Sunday that Israel is experiencing a “very difficult outbreak, probably in a more difficult situation than we were in early September. Difficult steps will be inevitable”

Israel entered its third lockdown a week ago, but the Ministry of Health is warning that the measures are not stringent and effective enough and is demanding further restrictions.

“We will come with a requirement for a full closure for a period of two weeks. This virus should be given one strong blow and together set out on a new path,” said Edelstein.

The Ministry of Health updated Monday morning that it recorded 5,135 new cases in the past 24 hours.

Of the 79,395 tests done Sunday, a climbing 6.6% returned positive.

According to the Ministry of Health’s data, 731 patients are hospitalized in serious condition, of whom 201 are on life support.

3,416 Israelis have died of the virus since the outbreak in February.

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