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TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his staff will enter quarantine until Health Ministry officials complete an epidemiological investigation into whether he was exposed to the coronavirus, his office said Monday, a day after one of his aides tested positive.
“Even before the epidemiological study is over and to remove all doubt, the prime minister has decided that he and his close personnel will remain in isolation until the epidemiological investigation is completed,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
“In accordance with the findings, the Health Ministry and the personal doctor of the prime minister will set a day to end the isolation,” it added.
Netanyahu’s parliamentary adviser, Rivka Paluch, was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Sunday but it is not clear whether the prime minister was in close quarters with her over the past two weeks.
“The initial assessment is that there it is not necessary for the prime minister to be in quarantine since he was not in close contact with the patient and did not meet with her,” the PMO said. “The two not appear to have been together in the same room for the past two weeks. The epidemiological investigation is ongoing.”
The prime minister has been upholding a strict regimen of social distancing in accordance with the guidelines set out by the Health Ministry and his personal physician, and has been performing many of his duties via video conferencing.
According to Paluch, she contracted the virus while visiting Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Her husband also tested positive and was hospitalized for COVID-19. Both are experiencing minimal symptoms, she told The Jerusalem Post.
Paluch said that while she did go to the Knesset on Thursday, she did not have direct contact with Netanyahu.
Security footage from the Knesset found that Paluch, Netanyahu’s longtime adviser on ultra-Orthodox affairs, had visited on March 16, 23 and 26. Parliamentarians found to have been in contact with her were told to isolate immediately.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the virus and has entered isolation quarantined. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also in isolation after his wife became ill with the COVID-19 disease caused by coronavirus.
The Health Ministry on Sunday evening announced that there were 4,347 confirmed cases of the virus. Eighty were in serious condition, of which 63 were attached to ventilators. Sixteen Israelis have died from the virus, including three on Sunday alone.