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Likud MK seriously ill with COVID-19 shows small improvement

Family of lawmaker David Bitan say he is continuing to communicate with those around him, notes some progress toward recovery

Likud MK David Bitan at the Knesset on January 15, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussil/Flash90)
Likud MK David Bitan at the Knesset on January 15, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussil/Flash90)

The family of Likud MK David Bitan, who has been hospitalized for nearly two weeks with a serious case of COVID-19, said Thursday that the lawmaker had shown a small improvement in his condition.

In a post to Bitan’s official Twitter account, the family wrote that he is communicating with those around him, though he is still hooked up to an apparatus to assist his heart and lungs — an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

“But there is a trend of improvement and we are continuing to pray that he will continue to improve in the coming days,” the family wrote and thanked those who had sent messages wishing Bitan a full recovery.

Due to his infection with the coronavirus, Bitan missed a vital vote in the Knesset early Tuesday morning during which a bill to push off a deadline for passing the state budget was narrowly defeated, causing parliament to automatically dissolve and sending the country to its fourth round of elections in two years.

Bitan’s Likud party had supported the bill.

On Saturday night Prime Minister Netanyahu and Health Minster Yuli Edelstein visited Bitan at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, where he is being treated. Video footage from the hospital visit showed Netanyahu and Edelstein waving at Bitan through the glass.

Bitan was hospitalized earlier in the month when his oxygen levels fell, days after it was revealed that he had contracted the coronavirus.

According to Channel 12 news, Bitan continued to meet with people prior to his diagnosis despite feeling unwell and suffering from a cough. Around 30 people were reportedly forced to quarantine as a result of the MK not following the directive to stay home when feeling unwell.

Bitan, who chairs the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee, was among the politicians who greeted new immigrants from Ethiopia a few days prior to his diagnosis. That ceremony was also attended by Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and other senior government officials, though the politicians wore masks at the outdoor welcoming event at Ben Gurion Airport and were not required to self-isolate.

Bitan is among a handful of lawmakers and ministers who have contracted the virus, including then-health minister Yaakov Litzman, Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz, Shas MK Yinon Azoulay, and Blue and White MK Hila Shay-Vazan.

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