PCR testing booths in the Ben Gurion airport

New COVID variants detected at the Ben Gurion Airport

The first two confirmed cases of BA5 detected in the Ben Gurion airport mandatory PCR testing site; BA4 also detected within the last two days; health expert says early indications do not show variants cause severe illness

Adir Yanko |
Published: 04.26.22, 20:48
The Health Ministry on Tuesday, said that two more people arriving from abroad were found to have been infected by the new COVID variant BA5 and one was found to have the BA4 variant.
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  • The variants were detected in the mandatory PCR tests passengers must submit to upon landing in Israel.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    מאהל בדיקות קורונה נתב"ג
    מאהל בדיקות קורונה נתב"ג
    PCR testing booths in the Ben Gurion airport
    (Photo: Tal Shachar)
    The BA4 was first announced to have been detected in Israel on Monday, and three people are known to have been infected after they returned to Israel from South Africa, Singapore, and Italy.
    As of now, the Health Ministry hasn't released additional information regarding the new variants discovered in Israel.
    Professor Cyrille Cohen, an immunology expert at the Bar Ilan University, explained in an interview with Ynet on Monday that the BA4 variant is a "sibling" of Omicron, as are the BA2 and BA3 variant that have already been confirmed in Israel.
    "If we look at the BA4 we see that it is detected in several places including the U.S., Botswana, Denmark, and Britain, and it is too early to say if it is more aggressive, although it does not look like it," he said.
    Cohen added that both the BA4 and BA5 variants were being closely followed by the World Heath Organization (WHO.)
    "Regarding BA4, only about 200 cases of it have been detected and it seems that compared to other variants it is still new in its presence," he said.
    Last month, BA3 was detected in Israel after it had been found in other places around world in February. BA3 spread at a slower pace than Omicron, and the WHO has since claimed that it is less contagious than earlier variants.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    גנץ והורוביץ בנתב"ג
    גנץ והורוביץ בנתב"ג
    PCR testing booths in the Ben Gurion airport
    (Photo: Tal Shachar)
    The new variant appeared just as Israel's mask mandate in closed spaces was lifted on Saturday evening.
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, with the Health Ministry's recommendation, decided to lift the mask mandate in all indoor settings, except from places with high risk of contagion, including hospitals, medical clinics and on international flights.
    The Health Ministry continues to recommend that immunocompromised and at-risk populations wear masks in enclosed spaces.

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