JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel’s health ministry says it has detected the country’s first case of a new coronavirus variant in a traveler who returned from Malawi.
The Health Ministry said in a statement on Friday that the passenger and two other suspected cases have been kept in isolation. It said all three have been vaccinated but it is currently looking into their exact vaccination status.
A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa, which scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations in the country’s most populous province of Gauteng and its rapid spread among young people.
Late Thursday, the government declared South Africa and six other African countries a “red country” barring foreign nationals from traveling to Israel. Israelis returning from those countries will have to go through a period of isolation.
Israel launched one of the world’s first and most successful vaccination campaigns late last year, and nearly half the population has received a booster shot. Israel recently expanded the campaign to include children under the age of five.
But the country still endured a wave of new cases in recent months driven by the delta variant, which was recently brought under control.