Coronavirus: 18 more people discovered infected with ‘British mutation’
The news of the additional cases comes one day after Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy told reporters that, “as far as the mutation, it still obviously exists.’
The ministry sa id that it tested 94 samples from Givat Ze’ev, Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, Beitar Illit, Modi’in Illit, Ramat Gan, Tiberias, Lakia and Kuseife. Of those, six have been confirmed as having caught the variant virus abroad. The others are still under investigation.
The ministry is in the process of testing another 400 samples from across the country and sa id in a statement that it will update the public of its findings when they become available.
The news of the additional cases comes one day after Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy told reporters that, “as far as the mutation, it still obviously exists — and in European countries and not just in England.
He sa id that “tightening and closure are increasing in areas where the mutation is common. We in the State of Israel ask all returnees to Israel to be tested and enter isolation.”
The British mutation, as it is dubbed, was discovered earlier this month in the United Kingdom and led large parts of the country to shut down. It appears to be as much as 70% more infectious than the first strands of the virus. However, it has not been found to change the nature of the disease.
Originally, the government and the Knesset voted to require all returnees from abroad to isolate in state-run coronavirus hotels for fear that returnees who failed to maintain quarantine could have the mutation and quickly spread it around. However, earlier this week, the Knesset voted to undo the move and to allow citizens to home isolate if they agree to be screened for the virus. The decision was made at the recommendation of the Health Ministry.
Israel has seen a spike in the virus in recent weeks, especially among the ultra-Orthodox community, and several health officials have sa id they thought the mutation may have entered those areas. However, as noted, so far, only 23 cases have been discovered.
On Fr iday, the Health Ministry sent voice messages to all kosher phone subscribers asking them not to gather on Shabbat due to the rise in infection. The message recommended that people attend prayers outside and ‘take advantage of the comfortable weather.’
‘Guarding the elderly is a moral obligation,’ the messages sa id. ‘We must not endanger our parents. Do not stay in enclosed spaces without ventilation, wear a mask when leaving the house and avoid crowded areas.’
Levy sa id during his briefing that all research indicates that the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is effective against the mutation.