Israel Parliament suspends activities after MP tests COVID-19 positive

JERUSALEM, April 30, 2019 (Xinhua) -- A ceremony to inaugurate Israel's 21st Knesset is held in Jerusalem, on April 30, 2019. The newly-elected Israeli parliament, or Knesset, was sworn in on Tuesday, three weeks after the April 9 elections. (Xinhua/JINI/IANS)

The Israeli parliament or Knesset on Thursday suspended most of its activities for the day after a lawmaker tested positive for coronavirus.

Staff at the Knesset have been asked not to come into work unless it is essential, while committee meetings have been postponed, reports the BBC.

The infected lawmaker, Sami Abou Shahadeh, entered self-isolation two days ago after his driver tested positive.

But he told public broadcaster Kan that he had met thousands of people over the past two weeks.

“I went to comfort mourners and also to family events and demonstrations,” he said, according to the Times of Israel.

“I was on committees, in the (Knesset) plenary and even the cafeteria.”

Abou Shahadeh has urged people who have been in close contact with him to self-isolate and get tested.

“The virus is still among us and a return to so-called routine helps the virus spread with greater magnitude and speed,” he tweeted.

Photographs circulated by Kan showed him not wearing a face mask at a mourning tent set up by the family of Iyad Halaq, an autistic Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli police on May 30.

As of Thursday, Israel accounted for 17,377 COVID-19 cases, with 291 deaths.

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