Freshman minister enters quarantine after staffer is diagnosed with virus
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Freshman minister enters quarantine after staffer is diagnosed with virus

Yizhar Shai reportedly tested negative earlier this week but will undergo second check; said to have last met with diagnosed aide last week

Izhar Shay poses at the Knesset, on April 29, 2019 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Izhar Shay poses at the Knesset, on April 29, 2019 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Science and Technology Minister Yizhar Shai has entered quarantine after a staff member was diagnosed with the coronavirus, Hebrew media reported Wednesday.

According to the Ynet news site, the Blue and White MK last met with the staffer last Thursday and has been tested since then, but will undergo a second test.

Last week MK Sami Abou Shahadeh of the Joint List announced that he tested positive for the coronavirus days after being photographed in crowds not wearing a mask, forcing the Knesset to suspend most activities Thursday.

On Friday, cabinet secretary Tzachi Braverman announced that ministers interested in doing so could be tested for COVID-19.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous Knesset members have entered quarantine after being exposed to a carrier of the virus, though only Abou Shahadeh and Yaakov Litzman have been diagnosed with the virus.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left)  and then-Health Minister Yaakov Litzman hold a press conference about the coronavirus at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem, March 4, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Litzman, head of the United Torah Judaism party, was serving as health minister when it was announced he had tested positive for the virus on April 2. He has since recovered from COVID-19. He is now housing minister.

There has been a sharp increase in new virus cases in recent days with a further 88 coronavirus cases diagnosed overnight, the Health Ministry announced Wednesday morning, indicating a continuing trend of mounting infections after the country decided to roll back most restrictions last month.

The number of active virus cases has surged to 2,761, according to Health Ministry figures, after having dipped below 2,000 last month.

Earlier in the week 179 cases were identified in 24 hours, the highest number of daily cases diagnosed since late April.

Officials have bemoaned a slackening of public observance of virus rules, though lawmakers and policy leaders have also flouted health guidelines.

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