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Joint List leader catches COVID-19, warns it’s ‘real and dangerous’

Ayman Odeh urges Israelis to maintain social distancing, hygiene practices; is feeling fine, apart from slight fever

Joint List party leader MK Ayman Odeh at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on February 5, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Joint List party leader MK Ayman Odeh at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on February 5, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Joint List party leader MK Ayman Odeh on Sunday announced that he has contracted COVID-19.

In a statement, Odeh, 45, said that apart from a slight fever he felt fine and would continue to fulfill his parliamentary duties from quarantine. The leader of the predominantly Arab party also reiterated the importance of social distancing and personal hygiene as vital to preventing the spread of coronavirus.

“I urge everyone to act carefully and obey guidelines about masks, social distancing, and hygiene. The virus is real, dangerous, and contagious,” Odeh said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear if any other politicians came in contact with Odeh recently and would need to enter quarantine.

On Saturday, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel confirmed that she had contracted the coronavirus, the fourth member of Prime Minister Benjamin  Netanyahu’s cabinet to fall ill with the disease.

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel. (Courtesy, Environmental Protection Ministry)

In August, Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata of Blue and White tested positive for the coronavirus. That came weeks after Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz (Jewish Home) was diagnosed with COVID-19. In April, then-health minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism was infected with the virus.

The latest cases came as Israel was under a nationwide lockdown amid a huge surge cases, which have affected the entire country and hit Arab-majority communities particularly hard.

Israel’s second lockdown, which started on September 18, has been less stringent than the country’s first earlier this year, despite cases and deaths soaring daily. The public has accordingly been reported to be taking a more lax approach to the limitations.

Israel has had a total of 265,086 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, with 70,366 active cases, 891 of them serious, and 326 in moderate condition. According to Health Ministry data, 1,692 people in Israel have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

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