Coronavirus test
Coronavirus test iStock

The new variant identified in South African countries has been identified in Israel, the Health Ministry's headquarters for fighting coronavirus reported Friday morning.

Currently, the variant has been identified only in one person, who arrived from Malawi.

There is also a suspicion that two others who returned from abroad may have been infected with the variant. They have been ordered to quarantine, and their samples are currently undergoing DNA sequencing.

All three individuals have claimed to be vaccinated, and their vaccination records are in the process of being verified.

Efforts are being made to identify other contacts, and the Health Ministry continues to follow the situation and will provide the public with updates when there are new developments.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has called an urgent meeting for 11:00a.m. Friday morning, to discuss the new variant together with the Health Minister and other professionals. On Thursday night, upon receiving the news that someone carrying the variant had arrived in Israel, Bennett instructed that an order be placed for a large number of PCR tests able to better detect the new variant.

The B.1.1.529 variant was initially identified in Botswana, but cases have also been discovered in South Africa and Hong Kong, in a traveler returning from Africa. It has 32 mutations to its spike protein, causing scientists to be concerned that it may be more infectious and better able to avoid antibodies.

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