Inside Israel

10% of Knesset absent due to virus as COVID spreads among lawmakers

At least 14 lawmakers and ministers infected with COVID-19 were absent from governmental work on Wednesday, as cases continue to climb to new records in both the country and the Knesset.

Six members of the coalition, including Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, his deputy Idan Roll (Yesh Atid), Public Security Minister Omer Barlev (Labor), and MKs Michael Biton (Blue and White), Yomtob Kalfon (Yamina) and Emilie Moatti (Labor), are self-isolating after testing positive for the coronavirus.

In the opposition, eight lawmakers were quarantined on Wednesday after testing positive, including three Likud MKs: Haim Katz, Ofir Katz and Etty Atia. Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas), Yisrael Eichler (UTJ), Yitzhak Pindrus (UTJ), Osama Saadi (Joint List) and Ofir Sofer (Religious Zionism) were also infected.

Meaning, 10%, or 12 out of 120 MKs have the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon. (Barlev and Roll are not members of the Knesset.)

Wednesday’s Knesset sessions continued despite the missing lawmakers.

The rapid rise in coronavirus cases that has seen record caseloads every day over the past week continued Tuesday with 43,815 new patients confirmed, the highest number since the pandemic began in early 2020.

United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Pindrus at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 29, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Health Ministry figures released on Wednesday showed that out of 360,038 virus tests carried out, 12.09 percent returned positive, the highest value since September 29, 2020, when it was 15.29%.

The number of seriously ill patients was given as 254, one fewer than the day before. Of those, 84 are considered critical and 63 are on ventilators.

With the death of a patient the previous day, the toll since the start of the pandemic reached 8,274.

The Omicron virus variant has raced across Israel over the past week, leaving the country with 222,877 active patients, 198,276 of whom were diagnosed over the past seven days — a rate three times higher than the previous week. The rampage has left 156,393 Israelis in quarantine due to infection or exposure to an infected person, ministry figures showed.

A Tuesday evening meeting of the coronavirus cabinet, a select panel of ministers who form virus policy, ended without any major decisions.

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