PA sends Covid swabs to Israel to test for Omicron
Palestinian Authorities' s health ministry has sent some 100 coronavirus test samples to Israel, where it can be determined if the new Omicron variant is present, according to Haaretz.
Dr. Mai al-Kila told Voice of Palestine radio that the Palestinian Authority suspects that the variant is present in the West Bank.
According to the health minister, medical facilities in the West Bank are unable to test for the new variant, as a result, the test had to be sent to the Sheba Medical Center, in Israel.
To date, no cases of the new Omicron variant have been identified in the West Bank, although cases continue to rise, with 126 further positive tests in the West Bank over the weekend, and 64 reported in Gaza.
Two deaths from the virus were also recorded.
The Omicron variant has been detected in Israel, and prompted the Israeli government to stop all foreign travel into the country for 14 days at the end of November, and mandating that all Israelis returning, must quarantine upon arrival.
The emergence of the Omicron variant has caused concern globally, since it was identified in southern Africa.
The Omicron variant is thought to much more effective at spreading than its predecessors, and scientists have expressed concerns that the vaccines currently available will prove ineffective against this latest strain.
Since the start of the pandemic, Palestine has recorded over 336,000 infections and at least 3,699 deaths.
Early vaccination effort were hampered by the Israeli authorities, who blocked the passage of the vaccines, and provided the Palestinian Authority with vaccines that were out of date.
On Saturday, the Palestine Ministry of Health announced that 136,610 people had now received three doses of the coronavirus vaccine, while over 1.4 million people had been given at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Russian Sputnik vaccine, across Palestine.