Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone under quarantine in his official residence after one of his aides tested positive for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) – the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease – his office announced on March 30.
Netanyahu has tested negative for the virus, but will be self-isolating for as long as instructed by the Ministry of Health as a cautionary measure.
His aide, the PM’s ultra-Orthodox affairs advisor, Rivka Paluch, who works alongside him in the Knesset tested positive on March 29 after her husband was found to be positive. All members of the parliament who came in close contact with Paluch have also gone into self-isolation.
According to his spokesperson, Netanyahu will continue to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the country, including enforcing the rollout of a new set of restrictions approved by the cabinet on March 30. Israel has reported 4,831 coronavirus cases and 18 deaths as of March 31.
Israelis to celebrate holidays alone
Netanyahu has urged the Israeli public to celebrate the upcoming Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious holidays – Passover, Easter and Ramadan – without the presence of extended families. With the approaching Passover holiday which begins on April 8, Netanyahu says that he will be avoiding family visits to prevent spread among family members and urges the public to follow suit.
Under the new government rollout, restrictions have been placed on gatherings. Now, no more than two people from the same family are allowed to gather in one place. No more than 20 individuals are allowed at a funeral. No guests are allowed at weddings. Prayer services have also been banned.
For the workforce, the government recommends that employers reduce in-house staff to 15% and employees are to maintain two meters (6,56 feet) distance between each other.
Netanyahu was reportedly due to be tried in court for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust on March 17, but the trial has been delayed by over two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. “In light of developments regarding the spread of the coronavirus, and taking into account the latest guidelines given and the declaration of a state of emergency in the courts, we have decided to cancel the scheduled hearing,” court officials announced.
The Israeli courts will only sit for urgent hearings, as the Health Ministry has warned that there is a “real fear of serious harm to public health” should the courts remain open.
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