Netanyahu, 130 others enter quarantine after 4 Knesset staff infected with COVID-19

Opposition leader was working out at the parliament’s gym with a personal trainer who was later found to be carrying virus, his party says

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu during a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset, on December 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu during a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset, on December 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and some 130 others at the Knesset entered quarantine on Friday evening, after four parliamentary personnel were confirmed to be carriers of coronavirus, officials said.

According to Hebrew-language media reports, at least one is suspected to be a carrier of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Yesh Atid MK Simon Davidson also entered self-isolation due to the outbreak.

The chief Knesset officer informed Netanyahu that a personal trainer at the Israeli parliament’s gym, who was coaching him on Wednesday, was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, his Likud party said in a statement.

“The former prime minister is acting in accordance with the guidelines and is waiting for the results of the tests,” Likud said.

Netanyahu has been forced into quarantine several times since the start of the pandemic over exposure to sick staff members.

On Thursday, a Knesset security guard tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The guard has not been at work since Sunday, according to the Knesset spokesperson, but 21 other security and parliamentary personnel, as well as United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush, have been instructed to enter quarantine.

According to new regulations, people who have come in direct contact with an Omicron carrier must isolate for three days, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz vote from the Knesset gallery due to quarantine requirements on December 15, 2021.(Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that he had entered self-imposed quarantine after discovering that an aide who flew with him to the US this week had tested positive for coronavirus, later reported to be the Omicron variant.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tested negative for COVID-19 after a passenger on his flight back to Israel from the United Arab Emirates earlier this week tested positive for the coronavirus a day earlier.

The latest Health Ministry coronavirus figures released Friday showed 854 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed the previous day, the highest daily figure in some two months.

Another 475 cases were detected by Friday afternoon, as the pandemic appeared to be on an upward trajectory in Israel once more amid concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant.

The latest numbers also showed Israel’s basic virus reproduction rate had risen to 1.07. Also known as the “R-number,” the figure represents the number of people each confirmed patient infects, on average. Any number over 1 signifies that case numbers are rising.

The Omicron coronavirus strain has dominated policy talks, leading Israel to once again shutter its borders to most foreigners and impose fresh restrictions on Israelis returning from countries with high infection rates.

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