Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Saturday night paid a visit to a Likud lawmaker who is hospitalized with a serious case of COVID-19.
Netanyahu and Edelstein went to the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv to see David Bitan, shortly after becoming the first people in Israel to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Video footage from the hospital visit showed Netanyahu and Edelstein waving at Bitan through the glass.
Bitan’s family said Saturday that he remains in serious but stable condition. They said the lawmaker is still hooked up to an apparatus to assist his heart and lungs — an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine — and is communicating with those around him.
“David is being treated with dedication by the Sheba Medical Center team and we would like to thank them,” the family said.
Bitan was hospitalized last Saturday 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, and Shas MK Yinon Azoulay.