The Los Angeles Coronavirus (COVID-19) variant has been discovered in Israel as the country scrambled to close its skies and prevent the entry of further mutations.
The Health Ministry stated Sunday that a case was detected, and that patient had infected four more people.
“The incident is under investigation – the Ministry of Health will continue to update with additional findings as they become available,” it said.
The Los Angeles variant, known as L452R, was first identified in Denmark in March and appeared in California as early as May.
Early indications show that L452R might be less susceptible to the currently administered vaccines, but more investigation is needed.
The UK variant and the South African variant have both been discovered in Israel. The UK variant has been blamed for an increased infection rate, dangerous infections in pregnant women, and a spike in illness among children.
In the meantime, the Cabinet approved on Sunday the proposal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Transportation Minister Miri Regev to halt flights to and from Israel, which includes a ban on incoming planes to Israel except for cargo flights, firefighting flights and flights for emergency medical evacuations.
One can depart from Israel only for medical treatment, judicial proceedings to which the person is a party or must participate in, or the funeral of a close relative.
The Health Ministry Director-General and the Transportation Ministry Director General are entitled to approve exceptional requests for departure abroad on humanitarian grounds or special personal needs.
The regulations will be in effect at least until January 31 and are expected to be extended, possibly into March.
The Health Ministry continued with its operation to vaccinate the population. Over 2,586,000 Israelis have received first the Pfizer-developed vaccine, some 29% of the population, and over 1,099,000 have received the second dose.
The Ministry of Health updated Monday that it documented 4,868 new COVID-19 cases over the past day.
Of the small number of 54,109 tests done on Sunday, a very high 9.3% returned positive.
A high number of 1,140 patients hospitalized with Corona are in serious condition, 358 of them are on life support.
January is emerging to be the worst month Israel has experienced in regards to COVID-19 deaths since the outbreak in the country over a year ago. Since the beginning of the month, 1,094 people have been added to the death toll in Israel. January is the month with the largest death toll since October, in which 970 patients died.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 4,419 corona patients have died in Israel.