Deputy FM found positive for coronavirus days after attending New Year’s party

Idan Roll said to be symptom-free, was checked after his husband, singer Harel Skaat, tested positive following case in his production team

Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll attends a ceremony at the ministry in Jerusalem on December 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll attends a ceremony at the ministry in Jerusalem on December 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll was confirmed Tuesday to be infected with the coronavirus, days after he danced mask-less at a New Year’s party over the weekend and drew a rebuke from Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

A statement from Roll’s office said that he had taken a test because his husband, singer Harel Skaat, had been exposed to an infected member of his production team at a performance on Thursday. Skaat has since tested positive and is in quarantine.

Following the result of his own test, Roll is now also in quarantine.

Asked about the possibility that Roll was infected at the party, a spokesperson told The Times of Israel that “as far as we know,” no one else who attended the party had been diagnosed with COVID.

The spokesperson said that Roll feels fine and is not experiencing any symptoms.

Roll, like other Foreign Ministry employees, has been working in a small pod with others, in accordance with health orders aimed at reducing COVID spread, his office said.

“All the workers who came into contact with him will undergo a coronavirus test today,” the statement said. It noted that Roll had not attended his Yesh Atid party’s faction meeting the day before at the Knesset.

It also said that Roll has not come into contact with any other MKs this week, indicating that Lapid will not need to take a virus test.

Lapid had rebuked Roll after the latter was filmed dancing without a mask at a crowded New Year’s Eve party over the weekend.

According to Lapid’s office, Roll said he had not broken any coronavirus rules and that all attendees at the party were tested beforehand.

Lapid told Roll that public officials had to be particularly fastidious about adhering to COVID-19 guidelines to serve as an example to the public, his office said.

Roll defended himself after the party, saying attendees on the invite-only guest list were required to show same-day test results at the door in order to gain entry, the Ynet website reported.

The Dan Caesarea Resort Hotel, where the party took place, backed up Roll’s account and said a Magen David Adom ambulance team conducted the tests at the entrance to the building.

However, the video — posted on Instagram by Roll’s husband Skaat — still sparked media uproar, as the government has been urging the public to avoid attending public gatherings amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Also on Tuesday, the Israeli Mission to the UN said that Ambassador Gilad Erdan had also tested positive for COVID-19. Two of his children tested positive last week after returning to school and the envoy ostensibly contracted the virus from them. None of the Erdans are experiencing any symptoms though, his office said.

Israel is weathering its fifth wave of coronavirus infections, which has seen the daily caseload rocket from less than a thousand last month to 10,720 confirmed cases on Monday, according to Health Ministry figures.

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