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Bennett tests positive for coronavirus after unmasked meeting with Blinken

Police chief Shabtai also diagnosed, both feel well; the two attended situation assessment with other officials in wake of Hadera attack

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has tested positive for coronavirus, the premier’s spokesperson said Monday, adding that the prime minister was feeling well and will continue to work from home.

Shortly after the announcement, police said that Police Chief Kobi Shabtai had also tested positive and was also feeling fine.

Bennett and Shabtai attended a situational assessment in the city of Hadera on Sunday evening after two Border Police officers were killed there in a terror attack claimed by the Islamic State terror group.

Bennett was wearing a mask in the officially released photograph, but Shabtai was not in at least one photo.

Earlier in the day, Bennett held a meeting in Jerusalem with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and was unmasked.

Blinken then held talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, before flying to the south of Israel for the Negev Summit where he met with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and the foreign ministers of the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt.

The prime minister is due to fly to India on an official visit on Saturday. It remained unclear if that was to be affected by the premier’s positive test result.

Prime Minister Bennett holds a situation assessment together with Israel Police Inspector General Kobi Shabtai and other senior members of the security forces at Hadera police station, hours after a deadly terror attack in the city, March 27, 2022. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who himself contracted the virus earlier this month, sent good wishes to his political rival.

“Health before everything. Wishing a full recovery to Naftali Bennett,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Bennett had done the same when Netanyahu was diagnosed.

The announcement that the prime minister had tested positive comes as Israel sees a resurgent wave of infections apparently caused by the Omicron BA.2 strain, but without an increase in the number of people in serious condition.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) vists the police station in Hadera, following a deadly terror attack in the northern city on March 27, 2022. (Israel Police)

According to the most recent data released by the Health Ministry on Monday morning, 15,596 people were diagnosed a day earlier out of the 99,385 people who were tested.

According to the Health Ministry, there were 65,799 active cases, with 290 patients in serious condition.

The death toll since the start of the pandemic stood at 10,485.

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