One Case of Ugandan COVID Strain Found in Israel, Pandemic Czar Says

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Healthcare workers treating a coronavirus patient in serious condition in a Jerusalem hospital earlier this month.
Healthcare workers treating a coronavirus patient in serious condition in a Jerusalem hospital earlier this month. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Coronavirus Czar Prof. Nachman Ash said that one case of the Ugandan variant has been detected in Israel, adding that the clinical significance of this discovery is still unknown.

Speaking at a briefing for Health Ministry staff Sunday, Ash added that about 90 percent of the new daily COVID-19 infections in Israel are the result of the virus' British variant.

"The coronavirus is not yet behind us, and the number of daily diagnoses is still very high, even if there's a downward trend," Ash said. "We are following the other emerging variants on a daily basis." 

Ash added that the South African variant has been found in about one percent of cases in Israel, and the variant first identified in California has been found in seven cases as well.

On Sunday, 2,579 Israelis tested positive for the coronavirus, and the rate of positive tests is 6.2 percent.

Ash has also called upon community leaders and mayors to actively prevent gatherings during the upcoming Purim holiday. "It's possible to celebrate Purim with family members but large meals and parties are totally banned, since they are a public health danger to us all," he said.

"I call on everyone celebrating not to attend parties. The outcome is already known – a whole lot more coronavirus patients in serious condition and a renewed closure of the economy and schools."

Ash also warned that if Infection rates spike, it would force Israel "to take steps toward closing the economy and the education system once again," adding that it might even lead to another lockdown.

In a move towards normalcy, Jerusalem's main streets are buzzing with activity as Israel largely reopens gyms, malls and schools. Credit: Emil Salman

Sunday saw the loosening of restrictions across Israel that were approved over the weekend, including reopening of schools for grades five, six, 11 and 12 in select cities and towns depending on the regional coronavirus infection rate, as well as the the reopening of sport and cultural sectors.

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