COVID in Africa

Reports from South Africa may indicate good news about the new Omicron coronavirus variant, with the Health Ministry reporting that the new strain does not lead to serious illness among people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Channel 12 News reported that Health Ministry officials send a reassuring message in internal discussions with Prime Minister Bennett, during which they are confident that in the current time frame the vaccine is effective against the variant in terms of serious and critical illness - but not in terms of infection.

Officials, the report said, hope the morbidity will be very limited and do not currently foresee a new widespread outbreak following the emergence of the variant.

Therefore, if there is close enforcement at Ben Gurion Airport and those who are required to enter isolation obey the quarantine guidelines, that will be sufficient to prevent the Omicron variant from causing a new wave of the coronavirus in Israel.

Dr. Sharon Alroy Preis, the head of Public Health Services at the Health Ministry, said Sunday evening that the Coronavirus Cabinet did not order new restrictions out of panic, but out of a sense of caution.

"We have learned to act responsibly and quickly when there is a high level of concern, and this is one of those cases. We are not in a state of emergency but are in very high alert," Dr. Alroy Preis said.

She noted that at present there is no case of the spread of the variant in Israel. "At the moment we do not see any case of the variant that came from infection in the community, so there is no reason to think that this thing has spread from the community."

Two Israelis have been confirmed to have been infected with the Omicron variant, both of whom returned from foreign countries.

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