The South African Omicron variant was first discovered in Israel late Thursday night, according to reports released Friday morning by the Health Ministry. It was first detected in an individual who returned to Israel from Malawi. Two other cases of returnees from abroad were also later identified as suspicious.
In all three cases, the travellers were vaccinated. According to media reports, one traveller was inoculated with three doses of the Pfizer vaccine, one with two shots of AstraZeneca and the other with two shots of Johnson & Johnson.
Later, another individual who entered Israel from Jordan was also found suspicious of infection with the variant.
Hundreds of passengers from South Africa were being held at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on Friday after the Netherlands imposed new travel restrictions amid concerns over an aggressive mutation of the Covid-19 virus.
Two flights from South Africa, one from Cape Town and one from Johannesburg, landed Friday late morning local time at Schiphol, an airport spokesman said. The passengers had to remain on board the flight while a separate, secure location in the airport was being located and are waiting to be tested, he said.