The majority of coronavirus cases in Israel can be traced to the US, the Jerusalem Post reports.
According to the Jerusalem Post, researchers from Tel Aviv University compared the viral genomes of SARS-CoV-2 samples from patients in Israel to viral genomes collected from patients in other parts of the world. Tel Aviv's Ari Stern tells the paper that about 70 percent of COVID-19 patients in Israel were infected with a SARS-CoV-2 strain that originated in the US. The Jerusalem Post notes that Israel halted flights from Europe and other parts of the world in late February and early March, but travelers from the US could continue to arrive in Israel until March 9.
Stern tells the Times of Israel that she was surprised at how far this strain spread, and hypothesizes that the spread could be due to possible poor enforcement of quarantines as well as tighter relationships among visitors from the US and Israelis than other tourists.
The Times of Israel adds that Stern and her colleagues plan to further study the virus and how it has spread in Israel to inform public health decisions for any future disease wave.