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9 Knesset members sent to quarantine after contact with suspected Omicron carrier

MKs from 7 parties told to self-isolate due to exposure to Knesset Channel reporter suspected of having new strain; parliament considering further restrictions to prevent spread

Disinfecting the Knesset ahead of the swearing in of MKs amid the coronavirus crisis, March 16, 2020 (Knesset spokeswoman)
Illustrative: Disinfecting the Knesset ahead of the swearing-in of MKs amid the coronavirus crisis, March 16, 2020 (Knesset spokeswoman)

Nine Knesset members from seven parties were instructed Sunday morning to enter quarantine after being exposed to a suspected carrier of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the Israeli parliament.

MKs Gilad Kariv (Labor), Merav Ben-Ari (Yesh Atid), Moshe Tur-Paz (Yesh Atid), Gadi Yevarkan (Likud), Keti Sheetrit (Likud), Yomtob Kalfon (Yamina), Mossi Raz (Meretz), Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beytenu) and Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism) were told to self-isolate after contact last week with a Knesset Channel reporter who tested positive for the virus and is suspected of having the new strain.

The Knesset members were found to have had contact with the reporter after an epidemiological investigation, the Knesset spokesperson said, adding that the Knesset was considering additional preventive measures to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus further.

Under new regulations, people who have come in direct contact with an Omicron carrier must isolate for three days, even if they are fully vaccinated.

MKs in quarantine will be able to continue to attend Knesset plenary sessions from behind the glass petition of the viewing gallery.

On Friday evening, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and some 130 other people at the Knesset entered quarantine after four parliamentary personnel were confirmed to be infected with the virus, including a personal trainer of the former prime minister.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz vote from the Knesset gallery due to quarantine requirements on December 15, 2021.(Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)

According to the Walla news site, three of those four cases were suspected to be of the Omicron variant of the virus.

Yesh Atid MK Simon Davidson also entered self-isolation on Friday due to the outbreak.

On Thursday, a Knesset security guard tested positive for the Omicron variant, sending 21 other security and parliamentary personnel, as well as United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush, into quarantine.

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that he had entered self-imposed quarantine after discovering that an aide who flew with him to the US last week had tested positive for coronavirus, later reported to be the Omicron variant.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tested negative for COVID-19 after a passenger on his flight back to Israel from the United Arab Emirates last week tested positive for the coronavirus.

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