Condition of Likud MK Bitan, hospitalized with COVID-19, deteriorates to serious

Lawmaker connected to an ECMO machine to assist his heart and lungs, remains conscious and able to communicate with staff at Sheba Medical Center

Likud MK David Bitan at a committee in the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on July 31, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK David Bitan at a committee in the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on July 31, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Likud lawmaker was in serious condition and connected to apparatus to assist his heart and lungs as his condition deteriorated, a day after he was admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

MK David Bitan was attached to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine but his condition was classified as stable, the Sheba Medical Center said in a statement.

The lawmaker was conscious and able to communicate with staff in the intensive care unit where he was being treated.

Bitan was hospitalized on Saturday when his oxygen levels fell, it was announced on Sunday, days after it was revealed that he had contracted the coronavirus.

Illustrative: Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing move a patient outside the coronavirus unit at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on July 27, 2020. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

According to Channel 12 news, Bitan continued to meet with people prior to his diagnosis despite feeling unwell and suffering from a cough. Around 30 people were reportedly forced to quarantine as a result of the MK not following the directive to stay home when feeling unwell.

Bitan, who chairs the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee, was among the politicians who greeted new immigrants from Ethiopia a few days prior to his diagnosis. That ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and other senior government officials, though the politicians wore masks at the outdoor welcoming event at Ben Gurion Airport.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second left, and his wife Sarah, third left, greet members of the Ethiopian Jewish community as they arrive at Ben Gurion airport, outside Tel Aviv, on December 3, 2020. (Amos Ben Gershon/GPO)

Netanyahu’s office said he would not self-isolate, as he was exposed to Bitan for under 15 minutes, according to Channel 13.

Coalition secretary Likud MK Miki Zohar announced that he was entering quarantine after meeting with Bitan on Thursday.

Bitan is among a handful of lawmakers and ministers who have contracted the virus, including then-health minister Yaakov Litzman, Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz, and Shas MK Yinon Azoulay.

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