Travelers at Ben-Gurion International Airport

Israel confirms first community-acquired Omicron coronavirus infection

Health Ministry says patient diagnosed with strain after coming in contact with confirmed carrier who returned from South Africa; total caseload rises to 11 with 24 suspected cases, pending lab confirmation

Adir Yanko |
Published: 12.05.21, 19:20
Israel on Sunday confirmed its first community-acquired Omicron coronavirus variant infection.
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  • According to the Health Ministry, the patient was diagnosed with the strain after coming in contact with another confirmed Omicron carrier who returned from South Africa, where the new bug was first reported.
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    נוסעים בנתב"ג
    נוסעים בנתב"ג
    Travelers at Ben-Gurion International Airport
    (Photo: AP)
    The ministry also reported that Israel's Omicron caseload rose from 7 to 11.
    Among the newly diagnosed Omicron patients are two travelers who returned from France and have had three doses of the Pfizer vaccine, one traveler returning from the United States who had received three Moderna vaccine doses and one traveler returning from South Africa who has received three doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
    The ministry also said that an additional 24 people are suspected of having contracted the highly mutated virus strain, pending lab confirmation.
    Among these suspected cases, 16 were defined as "unprotected", people who have recovered from COVID-19 over the past six months, are unvaccinated or have yet to receive their booster shot.
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    מעבדת הריצוף בבית חולים אסף הרופא
    מעבדת הריצוף בבית חולים אסף הרופא
    Sheba Medical Center's virology laboratory where suspected Omicron samples are diagnosed
    (Photo: Roi Rubinstein)
    The ministry said that among the country's 35 confirmed and suspected cases, unvaccinated people were more prone to demonstrate symptoms.
    Among the unvaccinated, nine experienced symptoms and ten did not. Among the vaccinated, only three patients exhibited COVID-19 symptoms while 11 did not. Information on two other cases remains unavailable.
    Fears over the new Omicron variant led Israel to shut its borders to tourists last week and ban Israelis from traveling to most African nations.
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