Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed he will be self-isolating after an aide tested positive for the Covid-19 infection. Early indications are that Netanyahu himself was unlikely to have contracted the virus.
Netanyahu was already scheduled to undergo a coronavirus by Tuesday, having previously tested negative on March 15.
According to guidelines issued by Israel’s Health Ministry, anyone deemed to have had close contact with an infected person is required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.
The aide, Rivka Paluch, attended a parliamentary session at which Netanyahu was present, as he and opposition lawmakers attempted to forge an emergency coalition government to help tackle the coronavirus crisis.
As of Monday, Israel has 4,347 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection which have resulted in 15 fatalities. The Health Ministry has released dire warnings forecasting that the death toll could reach into the thousands.
The announcement directly contradicts statements made earlier on Monday denying that Netanyahu would go into self-isolation as a result of the potential contact with Paluch, whose husband previously tested positive for the coronavirus.
“The preliminary assessment is that there is no need for the PM to self-isolate as he was not in close contact with the patient, nor did he meet with her,” an Israeli official said.
The news comes just days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for coronavirus, and England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty went into self-isolation as a result of close contact with the UK leader.