At least 3 more MKs enter quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 patients

Nir Barkat, Aida Touma-Sliman, Tehila Friedman join growing list of government officials in isolation, including 3 ministers and the IDF chief of staff

Likud MK and former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK and former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Three more Knesset lawmakers were forced to self-isolate on Friday after coming into contact with COVID-19 carriers, according to Israel’s parliament.

Likud’s Nir Barkat, Blue and White’s Tehila Friedman and the Joint List’s Aida Touma-Sliman will remain in quarantine until July 14 after being exposed to a coronavirus patient last week, the Knesset said following an epidemiological investigation.

A parliamentary aide for Touma-Sliman was also ordered into isolation.

Hebrew-language media reports on Friday morning also said Yesh Atid-Telem’s Orna Barbivai would remain in quarantine until July 21 after her parliamentary aide fell ill with the coronavirus, though this was not confirmed by the Knesset.

The coalition and opposition lawmakers join a handful of other senior politicians and officials to be isolated over exposure to the virus, including three ministers and the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff.

MK Aida Touma-Sliman leads a Status of Women and Gender Equality Committee meeting at the Knesset on November 21, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi entered quarantine Thursday after it was confirmed that he had been in the vicinity of a coronavirus carrier, the military said.

Several other senior officers have also entered quarantine after they too were in contact with the coronavirus carrier.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz entered isolation on Wednesday after coming into contact with a confirmed carrier, a family member, on June 28.

“Gantz feels good and will continue to manage the ministry’s matters and the rest of his public work from isolation,” his office said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, right, meets with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, center, and Northern Command chief Amir Baram in northern Israel on June 2, 2020. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Jewish Home MK Rafi Peretz, the minister for Jerusalem affairs and heritage, entered quarantine earlier Thursday after a member of his staff was diagnosed with COVID-19.

According to a statement from his office, Peretz most recently met with the adviser on Tuesday last week.

On Saturday, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana entered quarantine after the head of the Border Police force tested positive for COVID-19. Ohana said he had decided to voluntarily self-isolate out of an abundance of caution, even though his two meetings with Border Police Commander Yaakov Shabtai did not meet the Health Ministry standards requiring quarantine.

Other ministers and top military officials have been forced into quarantine during various times since the start of the pandemic, though only two lawmakers — then-health minister Yaakov Litzman and Joint List MK Sami Abou Shahadeh — have tested positive for the virus.

The last few weeks have seen the reversal of many of the gains made in the fight against the coronavirus in recent months. New daily virus cases, which had dropped to low double digits through most of May, have soared to over a thousand a day, and the number of active cases has reached an all-time high.

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