COVID-19: 297 cases of the BA.2 strain found in Israel so far

The new Omicron subvariant does not appear to be significantly more severe than the original strain.

 Kaplan hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot on January 18, 2022. (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
Kaplan hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot on January 18, 2022.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

There have been 297 cases of the BA.2 strain of coronavirus discovered in Israel so far, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of Public Health Services in the Health Ministry, announced on Wednesday morning.

Twelve of those infected with the new variant have recovered.

Alroy-Preis said that the Health Ministry is not yet aware of recurrent cases of infection relating to the new strain.

“For someone newly recovered to be infected with a similar virus, it must be different enough so that the antibodies in the body do not protect them from it,” she explained.

BA.2 may be as much as 1.5 times more transmissible than the original Omicron variant, designated BA.1, according to data from Statens Serum Institut, Denmark’s infectious disease surveillance body.

 Public Health Services Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, December 30, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Public Health Services Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, December 30, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

The new subvariant does not appear to be significantly more severe than the original strain, however.

On Tuesday, 60,359 people tested positive for coronavirus in Israel, down from 67,806 on Tuesday and 76,277 a week ago. The positivity rate was 26.14%, out of 230,908 people tested.

A record 1,112 people are considered to be in serious condition, with 268 on ventilators, and 112 people died from the virus on Tuesday, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Israel to 8,926.

News of the new variant came one day after the coronavirus cabinet passed an update to the Green Pass restrictions, effectively canceling the pass for all but high-risk events as per the recommendation of the Health Ministry.