On Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ended his self-isolation period, but now he has to go back into quarantine after another senior official tested positive for Covid-19.
Netanyahu is one of several top government officials who will be quarantined following the positive test of Health Minister Yaakov Litzman. Others include Yossi Cohen, the head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, and several leadership-level figures in the Health Ministry who all recently came into contact with Litzman.
The 71-year-old health minister and his wife Chava were found to have contracted the killer virus, his office confirmed on Wednesday overnight. Both feel well, but in line with the ministry’s guidelines, everyone who came into contact with him must go into a 14-day quarantine.
Ironically, Netanyahu had just ended his own period of isolation, which was mandated after his Knesset affairs adviser, Rivka Paluch, tested positive for the disease. The two-week quarantine from their previous encounter expired on Wednesday evening.
The Israeli leader last tested negative for the disease on Monday. He will be working from his Jerusalem residence, his office said in a statement.
The ministry is currently investigating who else may need self-isolation. Litzman attended the Israeli parliament last week, so security footage is being reviewed to identify those he came into contact with.
It was not immediately clear where the minister himself contracted the virus. Itamar Grotto, the deputy director-general of the ministry, said it may have been another senior government official or someone within the Haredi community in Jerusalem. Litzman is the head of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party.
As of Thursday, the Health Ministry identified 6,211 Covid-19 cases in Israel, with 29 patients dead so far.