An adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who met with the premier on Thursday took a test for coronavirus on Sunday after her husband was hospitalized with COVID-19 over the weekend, raising concerns that the prime minister may have been exposed himself.
“The family member is in the minor cases department; the aide has no symptoms. She has reported to the bureau and took a [coronavirus test] this morning,” sources close to Rivka Paluch, Netanyahu’s adviser on ultra-Orthodox affairs, told Channel 12 news.
“The rules for keeping distance from the prime minister and those near him were maintained in accordance with the instructions of the Health Ministry, even before the family member was found positive,” they said.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Paluch met with Netanyahu on Thursday but said that “the appropriate distance was kept.”
As of Sunday morning, there have been 3,865 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel and 15 directly connected deaths. According to the Health Ministry, 66 people are in serious condition, including 54 who were on ventilators. Another 82 people were in moderate condition, while the rest had minor symptoms.
On March 15, some two weeks ago, Netanyahu and his close aides underwent testing for COVID-19 on the instruction of the Prime Minister’s Office deputy director general for security and emergencies. None were found to be carrying the virus.
While confirming that all those tested came out negative for the virus, the PMO did not specify who was tested, nor did it state whether the prime minister or members of his close circle had been exposed to a carrier of the virus.
At this stage, Netanyahu does not need to self-isolate since he has not been in direct contact with a carrier of the virus. As of Sunday, there were seven MKs including two ministers in self-isolation due to exposure to someone with the virus.
On Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first world leader to be diagnosed with the illness that has swept the globe.
Netanyahu was quick to wish him “a full and speedy recovery.”
Dear @BorisJohnson, on behalf of the people of Israel I wish you a full and speedy recovery. Your friend, Benjamin Netanyahu
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) March 27, 2020
Johnson’s diagnosis followed that of Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, who was diagnosed on Wednesday.
British Health Minister Nadine Dorries was also infected with the virus earlier this month and has since recovered.