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Bennett warns Israel entering ’emergency situation’ over new COVID-19 strain

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday said that Israel is at the onset of an emergency situation, after the first case of a new, highly mutated coronavirus variant that first emerged in South Africa was detected in Israel.

“Our overriding principle at the moment is to take quick and strong action, now, especially regarding entry to – and exit from – Israel, until the situation becomes clearer,” Bennett said at a meeting with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and experts.

“When it does, we will decide what we are doing,” he added.

“We are currently at the threshold of an emergency situation. I ask everyone to be prepared and to fully join in the work around the clock,” Bennett told the meetings’ participants, in comments released to the media by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“The new variant is more contagious, at a much quicker pace than the Delta strain,” Bennett said, adding that authorities are following data from South Africa to learn more about it, including whether it is resistant to existing vaccines.

The first case of the strain, currently known by its scientific name B.1.1.529, was detected in Israel after a person arrived from Malawi, the Health Ministry announced earlier on Friday.

The ministry said two others were suspected of also being infected with the new strain, and were awaiting final test results. All three were vaccinated, the ministry said, adding that their........

© The Times of Israel

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