Four cases of the new strain of coronavirus which first emerged in the UK, have been found in Israel.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein made the announcement at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, with three of the cases reportedly being people who’d returned from England are were staying in state-run quarantine ‘hotels’.
The new virus strain spread more rapidly and is up to 70 percent more contagious, according to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
This comes as Israel looks set to implement a two-week national lockdown amid a surge in cases, while the UK has placed large swatches of the country – including all of London – into tight new Tier 4 restrictions.
This week, it was reported that hundreds of British-Israeli dual citizens were being hosted in Israel’s coronavirus ‘hotels’, amid the outbreak of the mutated virus. Five progressive teenage Jews were also left “in shock” when they were pulled from a flight to Israel to go on their gap year, at the last minute.
Edelstein told health officials he was “less optimistic” the new strain had not infiltrated the population, with Israeli media reporting that health officials fear a recent spike among the strictly-Orthodox community is a result of the mutated virus.
According to Times of Israel, coronavirus czar Nachman Ash warned the number of Israeli deaths could rise over 6,000 if action isn’t taken. So far there has been more than 3,000 fatalities.
“If we continue with the policy of ‘sit and do nothing,’ I’m afraid morbidity will continue to spike at a much more dangerous and sharp rate, and within two months we will reach an additional 3,000 dead,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly warned ministers that: “if we don’t act immediately… We will pay a heavy price.”
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