(June 5, 2020 / JNS) Arab Joint List Knesset member Sami Abou Shahadeh announced on Thursday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, causing Knesset activities to be effectively shut down.
He was photographed without a mask at the funeral tent of Iyad Halak, an Arab man with special needs shot on Saturday by Jerusalem police who believed him to be armed. Additionally, his personal driver had previously been diagnosed with the illness.
Authorities are working to determine with whom Abou Shahadeh came in contact while at the Knesset, though the official told reporters that he had been all over the Knesset, in the plenary, at the cafeteria and at numerous public events.
A Balad Party member, Abou Shahadeh is a resident of Tel Aviv.
The news came as Israel experienced an increase in new virus cases, particularly centered around school environments.
More than 40 schools have been closed across Israel in the past week, with some 10,000 students and school staff being sent to home quarantine, and more than 200 people diagnosed with COVID-19.
While there has been much debate as to whether or not to reclose schools, Education Minister Yoav Gallant has rejected the idea, saying it would create a serious hardship on students, parents and teachers, and that nationwide closures were not necessary at this stage.
As of Thursday morning, some 17,429 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic—up 52 from on Wednesday.
The Health Ministry also announced that widespread serological testing of an initial 70,000 Israelis would begin next week to help determine how much of the population had been exposed to COVID-19.
Tens of thousands more are slated to be tested later to determine who already has antibodies to protect them.
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