Netanyahu, Trump and other world leaders have close calls with coronavirus

US President Donald Trump had a similar close call, after an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference tested positive for coronavirus.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with European leaders about coronavirus, March 9, 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with European leaders about coronavirus, March 9, 2020
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump and other world leaders’ responses to being in direct or indirect contact with people infected by COVID-19 have put quarantine protocols to the test in recent days.
Netanyahu visited the Magen David Adom center in Kiryat Ono on February 27, and an MDA worker present at that time was found this week to have been infected with the novel coronavirus.
The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu was more than two meters away from the patient and is not in quarantine, as evidenced by the press conference he held on Wednesday and a video of him and his family listening to the reading of the megillah in their home Tuesday night.
“The worker was not in the same area in which [the prime minister’s] visit took place and was very far from him,” MDA said. “Beyond that, according to the medical documentation we have, at that time the worker did not carry the virus and was not in contact with anyone who carried the virus.”
Netanyahu has defended Israel placing greater restrictions than any Western country, until Italy went on lockdown this week, saying the steps have been effective in slowing the coronavirus’s spread. He has suggested that Israelis put their hands together and say “Namaste,” as is the custom in India, instead of shaking hands when they greet one another.
Trump had a similar close call after an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) tested positive for the coronavirus.
Five members of Congress – Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), tapped as the next White House chief of staff; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) – self-quarantined after coming into contact with the individual at CPAC.
Collins shook Trump’s hand on Friday, during the president’s visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Georgia, and Gaetz rode in the presidential limousine with Trump and took Air Force One on Monday, according to CNN.
Trump, US Vice President Mike Pence and others attended CPAC, but they did not come into contact with the infected attendee. Pence also attended the AIPAC conference, where five attendees have since been found to be infected with the novel coronavirus.
Neither Trump nor Pence have been tested for the virus. “The president has not received COVID-19 testing because he has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients, nor does he have any symptoms,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Monday night.
Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, candidates for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, canceled rallies planned for next week in Cleveland after consulting with local officials.
In the UK, Health Minister Nadine Dorries was diagnosed with coronavirus after showing symptoms on Friday. She had attended a reception with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson days before that and likely met with hundreds of people in Westminster during that time frame.
Despite that, Johnson would not be tested because he was not showing any symptoms and was not within two meters of Dorries at the event, a UK government source told CNN Wednesday.
Dorries has been in self-isolation since Friday.
“Thanks for so many good wishes,” Dorries tweeted on Wednesday. “It’s been pretty rubbish but I hope I’m over the worst of it now. More worried about my 84 [year-old] mum who is staying with me and began with the cough today. She is being tested tomorrow. Keep safe and keep washing those hands, everyone.”
In Spain, Javier Ortega Smith, an MP and secretary-general of the Vox Party, tested positive for coronavirus, leading to the suspension of all activity in the upper and lower houses of parliament for a week. All 52 Vox MPs went into self-isolation this week.
Vox held a mass rally with more than 9,000 people over the weekend, and Ortega hugged and kissed dozens of attendees. On Tuesday, Vox said the rally “was a mistake for which we apologize.”
In a moment that went viral online, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a press conference: “From now on we are stopping shaking hands – you can shake feet or touch elbows.” Seconds later, he shakes hands with someone and then laughs and says, “Oh no! We can’t do that anymore.” They then bump elbows.