What we know about the new COVID variant found in Israel

What we know about the new COVID variant found in Israel

Two people in Israel who returned from abroad have been found to be carrying a previously unidentified variant of COVID-19, the country’s health ministry reported on Wednesday morning. The virus is a combination of the BA.1 and BA.2 variants.

The cases were discovered during routine PCR testing at the main Ben-Gurion Airport for all passengers entering the country, according to local reports. Those infected are reported to be experiencing mild symptoms including fever, headaches and muscle pain, and did not require additional medical attention, they said.

The World Health Organization is yet to respond to the Israeli development. 

BA.1 and BA.2 are sub-variants of Omicron. The WHO had earlier said that while BA.2 was more transmissible of the two, there was no difference in severity.

Prof Salman Zarka, Israel’s COVID czar, has dismissed the new variant as a matter of serious concern. “The phenomenon of combined variants is well known… At this point, we’re not concerned about [the new variant leading to] serious cases,” Times of Israel quoted Zarka as saying.

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