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Previously unknown COVID variant discovered in Israel

Two cases of a new COVID-19 variant have been detected in Israel – but the country’s health ministry said it was not concerned.

The strain, which combines two subvariants of the Omicron variant — dubbed BA.1 and BA.2 — was recorded during PCR testing on two passengers arriving at Ben Gurion Airport. The Times of Israel reported.

“This variant is still unknown worldwide,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The two cases of the combined strain discovered so far suffered mild symptoms of fever, headache and muscular dystrophy and do not require a specific medical response,” it said, adding that it will continue to monitor the novel variant.

Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash told 103FM that the new variant could have originated in Israel.

An Israeli medic takes a swab sample from a child.
An Israeli medic takes a swab sample from a child.
AFP via Getty Images
Rafael Peled, 8, looks through VR virtual reality goggles as he receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Ramat Gan, Israel.
Rafael Peled, 8, looks through VR virtual reality goggles as he receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Ramat Gan, Israel.
AP

“It is likely that they were infected before boarding the plane in Israel. The variant could have originated here,” he said. “We don’t know what it means yet.”

Israeli COVID-19 tsar Salman Zarka appeared to confirm that the new variant was local.

“A young woman infected a baby and both of her parents,” he told Army Radio, without specifying where or when the infections occurred.

An Israeli health worker tests an unvaccinated ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary student for COVID-19.
An Israeli health worker tests an unvaccinated ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary student for COVID-19.
AP
An underground coronavirus ward at Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital remains operational.
An underground coronavirus ward at Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital remains operational.
ZUMAPRESS.com
A medical worker attends to a patient at the Barzilai Medical Center's COVID-19 ward.
A medical worker attends to a patient at the Barzilai Medical Center’s COVID-19 ward.
AFP via Getty Images

“The phenomenon of combined variants is well known,” he said. “At this point, we’re not worried [the new variant leading to] serious cases.”

More than 4 million people out of Israel’s 9.2 million population have received three shots of the vaccine. Almost 1.4 million COVID-19 cases, including 8,244 deaths, have been recorded in the country.

The government announced this month that it would be giving fourth doses to people over 60 and health workers amid a surge caused by the Omicron variant.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/18/previously-unknown-covid-variant-detected-in-israel/ Previously unknown COVID variant discovered in Israel

JACLYN DIAZ

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