Israel detects combination of Omicron BA.1 & BA.2 sub-variants

Jerusalem, March 17 (IANS) Israel’s Health Ministry has announced two cases of a previously unknown coronavirus variant that are thought to be a combination of the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 sub-variants.
According to the Ministry, the cases were discovered during routine PCR testing performed at the Ben-Gurion International Airport for all passengers entering the country, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Those infected with it are reported to be experiencing mild symptoms including fever, headaches and muscle pain, and did not require additional medical attention.
The Ministry has said that it is continuing to monitor the situation in the airport and will provide additional information as it becomes available.
“Analysis of the data revealed a unique genetic signature that combines mutations originating in the BA.1 strain and… the BA.2 strain,” a spokesperson from Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh), where the PCR tests were sequenced, said in a statement.
“It is important to note that the variant’s detection is only possible through deep sequencing. The data was immediately transmitted to the Health Ministry and Central Virus Laboratory for verification.”
As this variant has not yet been discovered anywhere else in the world so there is not much known about it. But senior Hadassah Medical Center physician Prof. Dror Mevorach said: “Every two to three weeks there is a new variant.”
“As long as it does not make up a significant part of new infections, it will not be defined as a variant of concern and has little significance,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Israel on Wednesday recorded 6,332 new coronavirus cases.
The country also announced it will not lift more Covid restrictions amid rising infections “in several locations around the world”, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
However, the requirement to use masks in closed public spaces will continue to be mandated and will be reviewed again in April.

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