Netanyahu, staff and family test negative for coronavirus

Cameras find Netanyahu doesn't have to quarantine

PM Benjamin Netanyahu with parliamentary adviser Rivka Paluch, who tested positive for the coronavirus (photo credit: Courtesy)
PM Benjamin Netanyahu with parliamentary adviser Rivka Paluch, who tested positive for the coronavirus
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his staff and family tested negative for the coronavirus on Monday, despite coming into limited contact with his parliamentary adviser, Rivka Paluch, who contracted the virus.
Netanyahu did not spend enough time with Paluch to warrant quarantining himself, the Knesset's cameras found on Monday. Nevertheless, Netanyahu and his staff temporarily isolated themselves until the end of an epidemiological study that is expected to reveal that he was not exposed to the coronavirus. He said at the press conference that he did so voluntarily in order to set an example for the public.
His office said that Health Ministry professionals were conducting a thorough study to determine what needs to be done next. The first indications of the study showed that there is no need for Netanyahu to enter quarantine, because he did not meet with Paluch and did not come into close contact with her. They have not been in the same room over the past two weeks.
Netanyahu, in coordination with his personal doctor, has been maintaining health restrictions strictly, and is conducting most of his work from his home and most of his consultations by video.
Paluch told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday night that reports Netanyahu would have to be quarantined were incorrect. She said that while she did go to the Knesset on Thursday to prepare the prime minister for the vote for Knesset speaker, she did not have any real contact with Netanyahu.
An investigation by the Knesset found that Paluch had been in the Knesset on March 16, 23, and 26, so anyone who had been in her company for an extended period of time on at least one of those days must quarantine themselves accordingly.
If Netanyahu tests positive, he and his entire staff would have to be quarantined, as would Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, who spent eight hours with him overnight on Saturday negotiating entering his government.
But Paluch said it was very unlikely that she had passed the virus on to her boss. 
Paluch's husband tested positive for the coronavirus before she did. She said he got it after being treated at Ichilov Hospital, and that both she and her husband felt well and had minimal symptoms.
Paluch is one of Netanyahu's few female advisers. While most of his closest advisers are in their 20s, she is a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) grandmother with many grandchildren, and is considered especially close to his wife, Sara.
A veteran of the Israeli political scene, Paluch once organized a visit of MKs and reporters to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. She ensured that a lunch at the Mukata presidential compound would be strictly kosher.
British prime minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the virus and is quarantined. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, said Saturday that she has recovered from being ill from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. She and her husband had been self-quarantined.

Alex Winston contributed to this report.



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