Israel suspends parliament sessions after MP gets virus

Knesset activities cancelled, non-essential staff instructed to stay home after legislator tests positive for COVID-19.

Israel suspended parliament sessions after a legislator tested positive for coronavirus amid concerns about new outbreaks in the country.

All non-essential Knesset staff were instructed to stay home, and all of Thursday’s committee meetings were postponed “pending an investigation of the ramifications” of MP Sami Abu Shehadeh having contracted COVID-19.


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“I appeal to all of those who have been in my immediate vicinity to self-isolate and get tested,” Abu Shehadeh, a member of the Arab Joint List party, said in a Twitter post on Wednesday night.

“The virus is still among us, and a return to so-called routine helps the virus spread with greater magnitude and speed,” he added.

The Knesset director-general was set to hold consultations about the pandemic with health ministry representatives to discuss how to proceed.

Abu Shehadeh’s driver had previously been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to Israeli media.

In an interview with public broadcaster Kan on Thursday, Abu Shehadeh said he had met thousands of people in the past two weeks.

Israel reacted quickly to the coronavirus crisis with stringent measures and, so far, the pandemic has been relatively mild in the country compared with others around the world.

Israeli schools reopened last month, but worries have grown some children are infecting others despite a slew of precautionary measures. Israeli media reported on Thursday as many as 42 schools closed over new outbreaks.

The education ministry did not immediately confirm that figure.

“Any educational institution in which there is morbidity will be shut,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Wednesday, adding school staff would continue seeking ways to protect and distance students from one another.

Israel, which has a population of nine million, has reported 17,343 coronavirus cases and 290 deaths. More than 593,000 people in the country have been tested for the virus, according to the health ministry. 

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