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Covid-19 Live Updates: Cases, Vaccine and Mandate News

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel during a ceremony to honor medical teams dealing with the pandemic in Jerusalem last summer.Credit…Abir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock

JERUSALEM — Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister of Israel, tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, according to a statement from his conservative Likud party.

A party spokesman, Yonatan Ulrich, said in the statement that Mr. Netanyahu, 72, “feels well” and that he was acting according to the country’s coronavirus guidelines. The former prime minister was in Parliament on Wednesday morning before being informed that he had tested positive in a routine P.C.R. test, according to Mr. Ulrich.

Under Ministry of Health guidelines, Mr. Netanyahu must now stay in isolation for at least five days and conduct rapid home tests on the fourth and fifth evenings of isolation. If the results of both tests are negative and no symptoms have appeared for 48 hours, Mr. Netanyahu will be able to leave isolation at the end of Day 5. A positive result would require him to remain in isolation until the end of Day 7.

Israel is just emerging from a fifth wave prompted by the Omicron variant of the virus, which saw confirmed cases soar to nearly 100,000 a day in the country. That number has now dropped to a daily average of about 6,500 new cases.

Mr. Netanyahu has received four vaccination shots, according to Mr. Ulrich. In January, Israel began offering fourth shots to people aged 60 and over as the country braced for a surge of infections from the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Israel lifted many of its remaining Covid restrictions on March 1, including ending limitations on gatherings, opening up the country to unvaccinated tourists and eliminating the need to present a digital proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and most other venues.

Another member of Israel’s Parliament — Shirly Pinto, of the small, right-wing Yamina party led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett — said on Twitter on Wednesday that she, too, had tested positive for the virus. She said she was the 61st lawmaker in Parliament to have been infected, though she didn’t specify what time period she was referring to.

Parliament has 120 seats, but two elections in the country since March 2020 have changed the makeup of the house during the course of the pandemic. Asked how many lawmakers had been infected in the current Parliament, a parliamentary spokesman, Uri Michael, said, “Sorry, we’re not counting.”

New reported cases by day

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

Mr. Netanyahu was prime minister from 2009 until 2021 after serving a previous three-year term in the 1990s, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history. He is now the leader of the opposition in Parliament.

Alongside his parliamentary role, Mr. Netanyahu is fighting corruption charges in a trial now underway in the Jerusalem District Court. He was charged with bribery, breach of trust and fraud in three separate cases in 2019, accused of providing lucrative official favors to wealthy businessmen in exchange for material gifts like expensive cigars and Champagne, and less-tangible ones such as control over coverage of him and his family in a major news outlet.

An increasingly polarizing figure as he clung to power, Mr. Netanyahu led Israel into four tumultuous election cycles within two years. Unable to form a majority coalition after the last election in March 2021, he was eventually replaced by Mr. Bennett.

On Wednesday, Mr. Bennett, a former political ally who sat in several Netanyahu-led governments, wished Mr. Netanyahu, who is now a bitter rival, a speedy and complete recovery, writing on Twitter, “Feel well!”

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