Knesset closes after Arab MK tests positive for coronavirus

Knesset Member Samy Abu Shahadeh of the Joint List tested positive, causing the Knesset to cancel all meetings and order 700 workers to stay home. 

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s parliament was forced to close down Thursday after an Arab member of the Knesset tested positive for the coronavirus. He had sat on several committees before his diagnosis.

A Knesset statement said “it was decided as a precaution to cancel all committee meetings planned for the Knesset today” and the parliament’s 700 workers were ordered to stay at home after Arab Joint List member Samy Abu Shahadeh announced overnight that he had the virus.

“I received a few minutes ago the corona test result I did today – the result is positive,” Abu Shahadeh tweeted shortly after midnight Tuesday. “I appeal to anyone who was in my immediate area to go in isolation and do a test.”

The 44-year-old resident of Tel Aviv who started his political career with a stint on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Council said he felt fine and didn’t have any symptoms, but had been in contact with “thousands” of people since the government started easing restrictions two weeks ago and warned Israelis of the consequences.

“I ask everyone to follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health,” Abu Shahadeh said. “We must all internalize that the campaign is not over yet. The virus still exists among us and the supposed return to routine helps the virus spread in a big and fast way. Wishing lots of health to all of us.”

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Abu Shahadeh went into quarantine Monday after his driver tested positive for coronavirus and had himself tested. The legislator told Kan Radio that in the past days he had been in contact with thousands of people in and out of the Knesset, where he had been in committee rooms, the plenum hall and even the cafeteria.

The Knesset closing came as the number of schools closed due to new outbreaks and the Health Ministry reopened six drive-through test centers around the country urging people to get themselves tested.