Israel on brink of state of emergency as new coronavirus variant reported in Occupied Territories

Israel has warned it is on the verge of declaring a state of emergency amid fears of a new coronavirus threat that experts have warned could be the most worrying strain to emerge yet.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met health experts on Friday to discuss how best to respond to the new variant that has been detected in South Africa and is likely to be more contagious than the Delta strain.

“We are currently on the verge of a state of emergency,” Bennett said, according to a statement from his office. “Our main principle is to act fast, strong and now.”


Bennett said there were a few cases of the new variant reported in the occupied territories of Palestine. It is not known if these cases have been confirmed.


A fourth wave of infections that hit Israel in June began subsiding in September. But over the past two weeks the "R", or reproduction rate of the virus, that had remained below one for two months, began climbing and has now crossed that threshold, indicating the virus could again be spreading exponentially.