Coronavirus: Additional case of new UK COVID-19 mutation found in Israel

"We are very worried about the British mutation, that's why we closed down flights from the entire world, and not just the affected countries," Health Ministry D-G Chezy Levy said.

DOCTORS at the Galilee Medical Center treat a patient infected with coronavirus on Wednesday.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
DOCTORS at the Galilee Medical Center treat a patient infected with coronavirus on Wednesday.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Another case of the new, faster-spreading coronavirus mutation was found in Israel Thursday night, the Health Ministry announced. It was found in a woman who returned from England this week and has been in home isolation since. She is in good condition.
Four cases of the new coronavirus mutation recently found in the United Kingdom were discovered in Israel on Wednesday. The four cases were found among passengers who returned from England in recent days, and they are isolating at home, according to the Health Ministry.

Two of the cases are in minors, one is a person who has medical reasons for being unable to isolate in a state-run corona hotel and the fourth returned to Israel from England before hotel isolation was required.
When asked about the new variant on Thursday, Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy reassured reporters that while the strain indeed seems more infectious, "according to all research done so far, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines - one of which is already being administered, while the other is already on its way - cover the new mutation as well."
He said that it is possible the new mutation is responsible for Israel's rapid rise in cases, and that the Health Ministry has begun performing more genetic sequencing tests to find out whether that is indeed the case, though only five cases have been found in Israel so far.
"We are very worried about the British mutation, that's why we closed down flights from the entire world, and not just the affected countries," Levy said, adding that the variant has been estimated to be around 60%-70% more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus discovered in Wuhan.
The new variant has so far been found in the UK, South Africa, Denmark, Israel and Singapore, with the bulk of the cases coming from the UK and South Africa.
Moreover, another new variant of the novel coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria, the head of Africa's disease control body said on Thursday, prompting an emergency meeting by Africa CDC.
"It's a separate lineage from the UK and the South African lineages," John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told an online news conference from Addis Ababa.

The news comes as cases are surging in both Nigeria and South Africa. In the past week, Nigeria reported a 52% increase in cases and South Africa a 40% increase, Nkengasong said.
He said there was no evidence the new variant was contributing to increased transmission in Nigeria, but cautioned the country does less genomic surveillance than Britain.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.