Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein speaks during a press conference about COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem

The “British mutation” of the coronavirus has officially invaded the State of Israel, with dozens of cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 having been identified in the Jewish State over the weekend.

Testing carried out this weekend showed out of 96 samples, seven positive results were obtained from the cities of Givat Ze’ev, Jerusalem and Bnei Brak.


More disturbing is the fact that none of the cases were contracted by anyone who had traveled outside the country, as far as is known.

According to Israel’s Health Ministry, at least 30 people have been diagnosed with the “British variant” of COVID-19 thus far. Of those, six were travelers who returned from abroad.

Of the 30 Israelis with B.1.1.7. COVID-19, one person may be living in the Judean Jewish city of Efrat, a few minutes south of Jerusalem.

Did the UK Variant Reach Efrat?
On Sunday, Efrat residents received a message from their community council informing them that a number of people living in the city “have come into contact with the British mutation of the coronavirus.”

The message reassured the residents that the mutation is not a more dangerous form of the virus, but nevertheless is, however, more contagious.

“At the moment it is still unclear where it was discovered and what the consequences are, so in consultation with the Ministry of Health, the entire education system will be closed tomorrow – including the infant day care centers, the afternoon day care centers, private nurseries, youth clubs, transportation, and special education programs throughout Efrat.

“Additionally, students who learn in schools outside of Efrat will not leave Efrat, nor will students from other cities enter Efrat until further notice,” the communique went on.

“At this stage there is no significant increase in the number of patients. The Council’s investigative team and corona staff are working to make sense of the incoming information. We will continue to assess the situation and we will update you again tomorrow,” the message added.

Coronavirus Numbers Keep Rising
Meanwhile, the general COVID-19 numbers keep rising across Israel.

On Saturday, the Health Ministry reported there were 6,004 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus diagnosed on Friday out of 98,000 tests that were conducted the same day, resulting in a 6.1 percent contagion rate.

As of 6 pm Sunday evening, there were 6,681 new cases of the virus, according to the Health Ministry — 2,540 of which were diagnosed since midnight Saturday night, from the 76,916 tests conducted Saturday, resulting in a 5.5 percent positivity rate.

At present there are 47,071 Israelis who are actively battling the virus. Of those, 761 patients are listed in serious condition; 255 of those are in critical condition, and 209 patients are on life support, dependent upon respirators to survive.

The Israeli death toll from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic has reached 3,412.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.