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Labor’s Kariv released from hospital after serious COVID illness

Fully vaccinated MK and Reform rabbi thanks well-wishers; he says it’s ‘hard to breathe without oxygen. Everyone who dismisses this disease doesn’t know what they’re talking about’

Labor MK Gilad Kariv speaks to Channel 13 news from his hospital bed in the coronavirus ward of Sheba Medical Center, on August 18, 2021. (Screenshot/Channel 13)
Labor MK Gilad Kariv speaks to Channel 13 news from his hospital bed in the coronavirus ward of Sheba Medical Center, on August 18, 2021. (Screenshot/Channel 13)

Labor MK Gilad Kariv was released on Thursday from Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer after suffering a serious case of COVID-19.

Kariv’s condition has improved, but he will still require oxygen while at home, Hebrew media reported.

“I thank all who wished me well and call on you all, go get vaccinated for yourselves, for those around you and for the strength of our health system,” he said.

A day earlier, Kariv said he was struggling to breathe without oxygen.

“It’s scary, it’s stressful,” Kariv told Channel 13 news, in an interview from his hospital room that aired on Wednesday night. “It’s hard for me to breathe without oxygen.”

Kariv, a Reform rabbi, is 47 years old and fully vaccinated. He said that his wife, children and many other relatives — all vaccinated — also tested positive, but his symptoms have been the most severe.

The Labor MK told the news network that he left a meeting at the Diaspora Ministry earlier this month when he started to feel unwell. At the same moment, he said, his wife called to tell him their son had a high fever. They all got tested for COVID.

“I got it the worst,” he said. “My wife tested positive, my younger son, my wife’s parents, my sister-in-law and her children — it spread very quickly, and we’re all vaccinated. From that moment,” he said, “it all happened very fast.”

Asked to describe the feeling that led him to call an ambulance and check into the hospital on Monday, Kariv said: “It feels like I have no air.” Just to walk into the emergency room, he said, was difficult. “You take three or four steps, and then you stop to somehow try and breathe.”

Labor MK Gilad Kariv speaks during a Finance Committee meeting in the Knesset, on June 22, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Everyone who dismisses this disease doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” he added.

The longtime Reform Movement activist was elected to the Knesset with the Labor Party earlier this year. In his role as chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, he has led heated discussions about coronavirus restrictions and enforcement.

Earlier this month, he came under fire when — during a hearing with hundreds of remote attendees — an individual could be heard over Zoom calling the head of the Health Ministry’s public health department, Sharon Alroy-Preis, a misogynist slur. Kariv asked for all the microphones of the remote participants to be shut off, but some observers felt that he did not go far enough in attempting to identify the individual.

“I understand the feelings of Dr. Alroy-Preis,” he told Channel 13. “She is experiencing a difficult time of attacks — and I can tell you that she sent me a WhatsApp message this morning asking how I’m feeling.”

Asked when he expects to return fully to work, Kariv said that he was not sure. “I don’t know yet. It feels like there is damage done,” he said, gesturing to his lungs.

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