Netanyahu self-isolates after adviser tests positive for coronavirus

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in isolation after his adviser on ultra-Orthodox issues was diagnosed with COVID-19.

al-monitor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech regarding the new measures that will be taken to fight the novel coronavirus, Jerusalem, March 14, 2020. Photo by GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images.

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public health, covid-19, epidemics, pandemic, quarantine, coronavirus, israeli politics, benjamin netanyahu

Mar 30, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is self-isolating after a close aide tested positive for the novel coronavirus, his office said Monday. 

The 70-year-old Israeli leader and other members of his office who may have been exposed will remain in isolation until a full investigation is completed and they are given the all-clear, his office said. 

Rivkah Paluch, the prime minister’s adviser on ultra-Orthodox issues, was diagnosed with COVID-19 overnight Monday after her husband was hospitalized with the virus. According to Israeli media reports, Paluch was at Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, Thursday morning as opposition leader Benny Gantz was voted speaker. It is unclear with whom she interacted. 

The prime minister's office said a preliminary investigation found no need for Netanyahu to enter a 14-day quarantine because he had not come into close contact with Paluch. 

Having tested negative for the virus earlier this month, Netanyahu will retake the test on Monday. Should he test positive, he and his staff would need to be quarantined, along with his rival Gantz, who spent eight hours with him over the weekend discussing an emergency unity government to deal with the pandemic. 

Netanyahu is meanwhile said to be coordinating with his personal doctor and conducting business from home and via video conference. 

The virus has impacted some of the highest levels of government around the world. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week he had been diagnosed with the coronavirus and is now under quarantine. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he will remain in isolation for the next two weeks, even though his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau had recovered from the virus. 

The number of cases in Israel surged over the weekend, with the Health Ministry reporting Monday that it had recorded 100 more cases, bringing the total number of infected to 4,347. Fifteen people have died of the virus in Israel and 80 are in serious condition. 

The government has rolled out sweeping measures aimed at keeping citizens indoors, including a ban on straying more than 100 meters from home unless to buy groceries, receive medical care or go to an approved job. Netanyahu warned last week his government would impose a full nationwide lockdown if there wasn’t an immediate reduction in the number of coronavirus cases.