Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu self-isolates after potential coronavirus exposure

Tragically, the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the globe. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently self-isolating as a precaution after a parliamentary aide tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

Netanyahu’s potential exposure reportedly occurred last week during a meeting with opposition leaders to discuss forming an emergency coalition to present a cohesive government response to the coronavirus crisis.

Netanyahu tests negative, will quarantine

Netanyahu was previously believed to have been exposed to the virus but tested negative on March 15. On Monday, Netanyahu again tested negative for COVID-19 but will follow the guidelines set by the Israeli Ministry of Health to remain in isolation for a period of time, CNBC reported.

The prime minister’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman announced via social media that while Netanyahu, his family, and personal staff tested negative, the prime minister “will remain quarantined until further instructions are issued by the Ministry of Health.”

Per the Health Ministry’s regulations, anyone who has been in close proximity to a carrier of the virus is expected to spend up to 14 days in self-isolation, minus however many days elapsed between the suspected exposure and knowledge of that individual being a positive carrier.

According to an unnamed senior Israeli official, Netanyahu has been abiding by those regulations and continues to fulfill his duties as prime minister by way of phone calls and video conferencing, CNBC reported.

Israel issues tight restrictions on population

Meanwhile, in light of the ongoing pandemic, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli government has instructed all residents to forgo gathering with extended family and friends and instead celebrate upcoming religious holidays like Easter, Passover, and Ramadan alone.

Multiple new restrictions imposed by the government on Monday also included limits on the numbers of people who can be in an office setting or at social gatherings like funerals and weddings and other ceremonies. Notably, the restrictions are being enforced with fines for non-compliance.

It is unclear exactly how long the restrictions will last, but the Post noted that the end of Passover, around mid-April, has been tentatively targeted as a date to begin loosening restrictions.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Israel currently has 4,831 confirmed cases of COVID-19. At least 17 people in Israel have died from the disease while 163 are reported to have fully recovered.

U.S. extends social distancing period

Meanwhile, the U.S. is bracing for a surge in coronavirus cases. President Donald Trump on Monday extended the voluntary social distancing period to April 30.

“It’s absolutely critical for the American people to follow the guidelines for the next 30 days. It’s a matter of life and death,” the president said Tuesday. Read the White House social distancing guidelines here.

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