Person on Israeli PM’s flight from UAE tests positive for COVID-19

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A person who was on Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s flight back from the United Arab Emirates has tested positive for COVID-19, the prime minister’s office said Tuesday.

Bennett returned to Israel on Monday from a historic two-day trip to the Gulf Arab state, the first by an Israeli leader to the country, which recently normalized ties with Israel.

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He was in a three-day quarantine on Tuesday as per Health Ministry regulations, which require all returning travelers, even those vaccinated, to self-isolate. He was expected to take a coronavirus test on Wednesday, also in line with health regulations, and then end his quarantine if he tests negative, the prime minister’s office said.

Bennett’s office did not specify who the person was who tested positive.

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Bennett was meant to be accompanied by a phalanx of Israeli and foreign journalists and a sizeable entourage on the visit. But a day before his departure, journalists were notified that because of concerns over omicron, the new coronavirus variant, they would not be joining and that Bennett’s entourage would be downsized.

Since the omicron strain emerged, Israel has sealed its borders to foreign travelers and placed limits on Israelis flying abroad. It has barred travel to all countries in sub-Saharan Africa and imposed self-quarantine requirements for all returning travelers.

Bennett’s trip this week to the UAE came against the backdrop of nuclear talks between world powers and regional archrival Iran over its tattered nuclear deal.

The trip also cemented the normalization agreement signed by Israel and the UAE under the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which also saw similar deals between Israel and Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

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