Joint List MK sent home from Knesset with fever, amid virus fears
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Joint List MK sent home from Knesset with fever, amid virus fears

If Sundus Saleh is found to be a COVID-19 carrier, she would be first lawmaker to have virus, though eight lawmakers already are in quarantine

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Arab Israeli Sondos Saleh, a candidate for the Hadash-Taal alliance of Arab parties, speaks during a campaign meeting in the northern Israeli city of Acre on March 26, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Arab Israeli Sondos Saleh, a candidate for the Hadash-Taal alliance of Arab parties, speaks during a campaign meeting in the northern Israeli city of Acre on March 26, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Joint List MK Sundus Saleh was sent home from the Knesset after she was found to have a temperature at the parliamentary clinic on Wednesday, sparking concerns that she may have contracted the novel coronavirus.

Saleh’s office confirmed that she had a fever in a statement, adding that the lawmaker was told by the Knesset nurse to continue monitoring her temperature for 24 hours.

The Knesset spokesman who initially broke the news did not specify whether Saleh would be required to be tested for the virus.

Explaining the decision to receive an examination, Saleh’s office said, “During these days, we have to show increased responsibility and seek medical attention, whether it’s because of weakness, fever or any other symptom.”

Fellow Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi tweeted that reports claiming Saleh had contracted the virus were false. “MK Sundus Saleh wasn’t feeling well and went home. She does not have coronavirus, and there aren’t even any testing kits in the Knesset.”

If she is found to indeed be a COVID-19 carrier, Saleh would be the first Israeli lawmaker to contract the virus.

Blue and White MK Ram Ben-Barak waiting to vote in the Knesset public gallery in order to separate him from other lawmakers due to him being in quarantine over coronavirus fears, March 23, 2020. (Shmulik Grossman/Knesset)

Diaspora Affairs Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) and Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) have already been placed in quarantine after coming in contact with virus carriers. They joined Blue and White MKs Ram Ben Barak and Alon Shuster and Shas MKs Moshe Abutbul and Yitzhak Cohen who have been in quarantine since last week.

The growing number of quarantined lawmakers has become a problem for the Knesset as regulations require MKs to be present to cast their votes. After Ben Barak and Shuster went into quarantine, the Blue and White party began demanding that an alternative solution be created to allow lawmakers to vote from home.

Ultimately, an exception was agreed upon to allow them to come out of quarantine and signal their vote from the Knesset gallery, far away from the other lawmakers who voted to form the key Arrangements Committee on Monday.

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