Jerusalem: The health ministry of Israel on Friday confirmed that a case of COVID-19 variant with a large number of mutations first detected in South Africa has been detected in the country, according to a report by NDTV
"The variant discovered in southern African states has been identified in Israel," the ministry informed, adding it was detected "in a person who returned from Malawi".
Two more infections were identified in "people returning from abroad", it informed, adding that they had been quarantined.
All the three people were inoculated, the health ministry said, without sharing details about the number of doses or the type of vaccine.
News of the spread of the infections to Israel comes a day after scientists in South Africa said they had identified the new B.1.1.529 COVID variant with at least 10 mutations, compared with two for Delta.
The strain was of "serious concern" and had been cited as the reason for a spike in infection tally, authorities in South Africa said on Thursday.
The variant has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong among passengers from South Africa, they said.
Israel was one of the first nations to launch vaccines against the COVID-19 last year owing to a deal with Pfizer that gave it access to millions of shots in return for data on the vaccine's effectiveness.
More than 5.7 million of Israel's nine million people are now fully vaccinated.
Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett held a meeting on Friday morning with public health officials and his government to discuss the Covid-19 situation in the country.
Besides, the World Health Organization (WHO) will also hold a meeting later Friday to decide if the new strain should be recognized as a variant of "interest" or of "concern".
Israel on Thursday had named on its "red list" the southern African countries of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe because of the detection of the new variant.
Israel, over the summer witnessed an spike in COVID-19 cases, fuelled by the Delta variant, and commenced one of the earliest drives for booster shots.
On Tuesday, Israel rolled out Covid-19 vaccinations for children aged five to 11, one of only a handful of countries to inoculate minors that young as it seeks to stem another pandemic wave.
Earlier this month, Israel had conducted a "war game drill" in case of an outbreak of a new lethal variant of Covid-19.
It covered various aspects of a crisis, including mass inoculation, ordering curfews and imposing a flight ban.