The Knesset is seeking to have all its members tested for coronavirus in the wake of the quarantine of four of its members, Reshet Bet reported Wednesday. Rabbi Aryeh Deri, Tzachi Hanegbi, Ram Ben-Barak and Alon Schuster were instructed to remain at home for the next two weeks after it was discovered that they were in contact with a Regional Council head who was diagnosed with coronavirus.
Most MKs were sworn in Monday, but two – Ben-Barak and Alon Schuster – were not, and as a result the Knesset is unable to operate. As such, votes for committee heads cannot take place, and the plenum cannot begin its work. Knesset officials have decided that it would be too risky to begin the Knesset session without checking all MKs for coronavirus, and demands are growing that all MKs and ministers be checked. Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, along with their families and personal staff, have been examined for coronavirus, and have been found not to be carrying the virus.
Shai Hajaj, head of the Merchavim Regional Council, revealed Wednesday that he had contracted coronavirus, although he apparently had a mild case. “I would like to reassure everyone that I am well, with just some sniffles,” he said in a social media post. But he later told officials that he met with the three MKs, and they were immediately placed into quarantine by health officials.
A spokesperson for Rabbi Deri said that the meeting had taken place Sunday. “The meeting took place before the increased cautionary steps instituted to prevent further infections, and was conducted within the strictures in effect at the time,” the spokesperson said, adding that “as soon as it was discovered that Shai Hajaj was carrying the virus, all individuals who were at that meeting entered quarantine.” Hanegbi said that “we will be remaining in isolation until at least next Wednesday night. My health is good, and I wish a speedy recovery to Shai Hajaj.”
Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman wrote a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday, informing him that he does not intend to come to the Knesset any time soon, because he is afraid of contracting the coronavirus.
Rabbi Litzman noted in his letter that it is dangerous for the elderly to leave home, due to their weaker immune systems. He said that he received medical advice that the Knesset would be an especially bad place to visit, especially in his age group – over 70 – being that several MKs have come in contact with people who have contracted the coronavirus.