3 ministers enter quarantine after minister Rafi Peretz tests positive for virus

Zeev Elkin, Orly Levy-Abekasis and Yaakov Avitan go into isolation as a result of contact with Jerusalem affairs minister, who announced diagnosis on Saturday evening

Rafi Peretz (right) with Zeev Elkin in the plenum hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 3, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rafi Peretz (right) with Zeev Elkin in the plenum hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 3, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Three more ministers entered quarantine Sunday after Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz announced the previous evening that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Higher Education and Water Resources Minister Zeev Elkin, Community Empowerment and Advancement Minister Orly Levy-Abekasis and Religious Affairs Minister Yaakov Avitan all went into isolation as a result of contact with Peretz.

Several of the ministers’ staff members have also been quarantined, Hebrew-language media reported.

Peretz himself has been in quarantine since Thursday, when his ministry’s director-general Avi Cohen tested positive.

Labour-Gesher party co-chairwoman Orly Levy-Abekasis at a faction meeting at the Knesset on November 11, 2019 (Hadas Parush/Flash90 )

“As Shabbat ended, unfortunately it became clear that I had tested positive in a test conducted on Friday. I currently feel well and wish all of Israel’s sick a speedy recovery,” Peretz wrote on Twitter.

Israel Police’s Jerusalem District Commander Doron Yadid, who has led the response to ongoing demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the capital, will also enter quarantine since he met over the past week with Peretz.

Yadid’s deputy, Eli Kazari, will replace him during the 14-day isolation period.

Peretz is the third lawmaker to test positive for coronavirus, following Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman and Joint List MK Sami Abou Shahadeh. Litzman tested positive in April when he was serving as health minister, allegedly after attending group prayers barred under the Health Ministry’s guidelines. He denied violating any rules. Abou Shahadeh was diagnosed in June.

Additionally, a spokesperson for the Knesset said Saturday that three lawmakers from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party would have to enter quarantine after coming into contact with a virus carrier earlier this week at the Knesset parliament building.

The three were Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, MK Avi Dichter and MK Osnat Mark.

Israel currently has one of the highest rates of daily new infections per capita in the world, and has seen seen the number of new coronavirus cases rocket to some 2,000 a day in recent weeks.

However, a new Hebrew University report published Thursday asserted that Israel has managed to gain control of the second wave of the coronavirus, thanks to a recent stabilization in the number of seriously and moderately ill patients.

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