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New COVID variant detected in Israel with country verging on ‘state of emergency’

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has met health experts to discuss how best to respond to a new variant of COVID-19 that has been detected in South Africa that he said was more contagious than the Delta strain.

“We are currently on the verge of a state of emergency,” Bennett said on Friday, according to a statement from his office.

Find out more about the new COVID variant in the video above

“Our main principle is to act fast, strong and now.”

Israel has reported one case of the new B.1.1.529 strain in a traveller returning from Malawi.

Two further people have been identified as possible cases and are awaiting test results, the Israeli Health Ministry said.

Virus Outbreak Israel
Israel has reported its first case of the new B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19. Credit: AP

They are in quarantine.

All three of the people are vaccinated.

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Our main principle is to act fast, strong and now

The search is on for more contacts after the three all returned to Israel from their trips abroad.

Israel announced on Thursday it was barring its citizens from travelling to southern Africa and banning the entry of foreigners from the region.

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