June 4, 2020 / 6:20 AM / a month ago

Israeli parliament sessions suspended after lawmaker gets coronavirus

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s parliament suspended sessions scheduled for Thursday after a lawmaker tested positive for the coronavirus, while some schools shut down anew amid worries about fresh outbreaks.

Having moved aggressively against the global pandemic in March and seen a tailing-off of new cases, Israel has eased curbs in recent weeks. But officials warn that public complacency could lead to a resurgence in cases.

The 120-seat Knesset said non-essential staff have been asked to stay home and all of Thursday’s committee meetings were postponed “pending an investigation of the ramifications” of lawmaker Sami Abou Shahadeh having contracted the coronavirus.

“I appeal to all of those who have been in my immediate vicinity to self-isolate and get tested,” Abou Shahadeh said on Twitter. “The virus is still among us and a return to so-called routine helps the virus spread with greater magnitude and speed.”

Israeli schools reopened last month but worries have grown that some children are infecting others despite a slew of precautionary measures. Israeli media reported on Thursday that as many as 42 schools had closed over fresh outbreaks.

The Education Ministry did not immediately confirm the figure.

“Any educational institution in which there is morbidity will be shut,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that school staff would continue seeking ways to protect and distance students from one another.

Israel, which has a population of 9 million, has reported 17,343 coronavirus cases and 290 deaths. More than 593,000 people in the country have been tested for the virus, the Health Ministry said.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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