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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 February 2021

New Covid-19 variant detected in Israel, says health ministry

Strain is thought to be up to 70 times more infectious than the original virus

Israel has detected four cases of the new, highly infectious Covid-19 variant that has emerged in Britain, the Israeli health ministry said on Wednesday.

Three of the cases were returnees from England and are isolating at a hotel designated as a coronavirus quarantine facility, the health ministry said. The fourth case is under investigation, it added.

Israel launched an inoculation drive on Saturday and has vaccinated 70,000 out of its 9 million population, health ministry data show.

Having secured vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, Israel expects to have enough doses by the year's end for the 20 per cent of its population most prone to Covid-19 complications.

Israel has reported 383,385 coronavirus cases and 3,136 deaths. It has imposed two national lockdowns and may soon order new sweeping restrictions amid an increase in new cases.

Updated: December 23, 2020 08:42 PM

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