Fear of the South African variant: Following a discussion with senior members of the health system and as we published in the main edition, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett this evening (Thursday) accepted the Ministry of Health’s recommendation to define the countries of South Africa as red. The application of another outline to prevent the spread of the new strain in the country.
List of countries defined as red: South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Aswatini. According to the decision, foreigners from these countries will not be able to enter Israel. All returnees from these countries, including those vaccinated with a third vaccine, will be referred for isolation in Corona hotels for a week and will be released after performing 2 PCR tests that have a negative result. Passengers who refuse to be checked will be charged for 14 days of isolation at the Corona Hotel.
This is the first time since October 1 that Israel has defined countries as red. The new variant that worries the Ministry of Health is called B1.1.529 and has so far been discovered in a number of countries on the African continent. It includes a number of mutations that may be more contagious and the effectiveness of the vaccine may even be impaired.
Although it was detected in a relatively small number of people, the rate of positive tests rose in a short time from a few percent to tens. So far, 10 cases of the new variant have been identified in only 3 countries: 3 cases in Botswana, another 6 in South Africa and one more case in Hong Kong, where it is a tourist who has returned from a visit to South Africa.
The discussion was attended by, among others, Prime Minister Bennett, Minister of Health Horowitz, the director general of the ministry, Prof. Ash, and the head of public health services, Dr. Elrai-Price.