Israel has detected on its soil the first infection with a mutant of the virus that causes Covid-19, subsequent to the mutant Delta, and is already spreading in several European countries, according to the Ministry of Health
The ministry said in a statement on Tuesday evening, “The mutant ‘AY for Point Two’ (AY4.2), which is registered in several European countries, was detected in Israel.”
The sub-mutant was detected in an 11-year-old boy during his arrival from Europe to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, and he was placed in quarantine, according to the ministry, which confirmed that no other case had been recorded since then.
The emergence of this new mutation, despite the severe infection caused by the delta mutant , raises fears of a larger outbreak.
In the view of the Director of the Institute of Genetics at the University of California, Francois Ballou, this new mutation is still rare and does not appear to pose the risks posed by other mutations.
The monitoring of the sub-mutator comes at a time when Israel intends to lift some of the health measures in force, especially those related to tourism.
Following an emergency meeting he held with Health Ministry officials on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that Israel will take measures to “preserve the positive results of combating the virus” after monitoring this sub-mutant.
The statement indicated that as part of these measures, Bennett requested to intensify the epidemiological surveillance of this new branch, and to contact the countries in which it was monitored to exchange information about it, and to consider the possibility of amending the guidelines for the entry of tourists to Israel.
In late December, Israel launched a vaccination campaign that helped it significantly reduce infection rates , but things turned around with the start of the spread of the highly contagious delta mutant, in an outbreak that the government responded by launching a third dose vaccination campaign against Covid-19.
More than 60% of the population of 9 million people received two doses of the vaccine, and more than a third of those received three doses.