Prime Minister Benjamin lashed out at officials for keeping "secret" reports of a coronavirus mutation spreading in the UK, as ministers dealing with the pandemic met Sunday to mull tighter measures to counter Israel's growing infection rate.
Deputy National Security Council chief Eitan Ben-David told the meeting that, "the issue of the mutation has been known for a week, from information not based in the media."
Netanyahu angrily replied: "I did not know."
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said he had known about the mutation since Saturday due to "a kind of leak from friendly sources."
He said that he had been asked to keep the matter secret but that the National Security Council had been updated the same day.
"What do you mean secret?" Netanyahu hit back. "Such a thing cannot be kept secret."
Both Netanyahu and Edelstein on Saturday night received the Pfizer vaccination against the coronavirus.
The head of Public Health Services at the Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon Elrai-Price, told the meeting that Israel had also received an update from the World Health Organization regarding the new mutation.
"This virus is more contagious," she said. "It is not clear what the effect of this virus is on the vaccine; we only have partial information."
Coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash recommended closing Israel's international airport, a move backed by the prime minister.
"Our objective [is] to immediately close [flights from] all countries. All flights from all over the world must be stopped," Netanyahu said.