Health minister recovers from COVID-19 after weeks-long illness
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Health minister recovers from COVID-19 after weeks-long illness

Yaakov Litzman’s office announces he has made a full recovery after twice testing negative for the coronavirus

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at a press conference about the coronavirus at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, March 11, 2020. (Flash90)
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at a press conference about the coronavirus at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, March 11, 2020. (Flash90)

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has recovered from COVID-19 after consecutive tests for the coronavirus came back negative, the Health Ministry announced Sunday.

“I was notified of a full recovery from the virus, thank God. It was a great opportunity for me to become personally aware of the dedicated work of the country’s precious medical staff,” he said in a statement.

Litzman also urged Israelis to continue to adhere to the Health Ministry’s social distancing guidelines, saying “only in this way can we defeat the coronavirus.”

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said in a separate statement that Litzman’s wife Chava, who was also infected, had recovered.

Litzman, 71, was confirmed to have the virus earlier this month, becoming the first and so far only Israeli lawmaker to contract COVID-19.

His diagnosis sent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials into temporary self-quarantine due to their contacts with Litzman.

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

Hours after he tested positive, a television report quoted witnesses as saying Litzman had attended group prayer services a day before in a violation of his own ministry’s guidelines.

Litzman, head of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, denied flouting the guidelines and brushed aside calls from opposition lawmakers to resign.

He also faced criticism for reportedly resisting the closure of synagogues and other religious institutions.

Litzman has already come under fire over the past year over allegations that he illicitly pressured officials in his office to change their psychiatric reports in order to deem alleged serial pedophile Malka Leifer unfit for extradition to Australia. Leifer has ties to Litzman’s Gur sect of Hasidim. Last July, police recommended that the minister be indicted in the Leifer case. He denies wrongdoing.

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