Third attendee at pro-Israel AIPAC conference tests positive for coronavirus

Third attendee at pro-Israel AIPAC conference tests positive for coronavirus
The major pro-Israel lobby group's annual conference was attended by around 18,000 people, including the US vice president.
2 min read
08 March, 2020
Prominent Democrats and Republicans attended the conference [Getty]
A third attendee at the annual conference of prominent pro-Israel lobby AIPAC has tested positive for the coronavirus, Californian health authorities said on Saturday.

A Los Angeles resident who recently returned from the Washington DC conference held earlier this week has contracted the deadly virus, also known as COVID-19, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Two people from New York state who attended the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee's annual conference were confirmed to have the deadly virus on Friday.

Around 18,000 people attended the conference, including around two-thirds of Congress and members of the Trump administration.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is heading the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Ambassador to Israel David Friedman were among the speakers.

The conference went ahead without worries of cancellation despite a number of high-profile events being cancelled worldwide in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Saudi Arabia has suspended the voluntary Umrah pilgrimage, while Switzerland cancelled all events hosting more than 1,000 people, including the world-famous Geneva Motor Show.

Israeli citizens who attended the AIPAC conference have not yet been specifically ordered to quarantine themselves at home, but Tel Aviv is currently mulling quarantine measures for travellers arriving from New York, California and Washington states - the epicentres of the outbreak in the United States.

Residents of Israel have however been told to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days after attending international conferences. It is unclear how the government is enforcing these measures.

"I have not been instructed to go into quarantine since returning," an Israeli attendee at the conference told Haaretz.

"I also called the government hotline and was told that there are no special instructions regarding the conference. I cancelled some plans I had for this week but am not fully in quarantine." 

Another participant confirmed they had not received any specific instructions from the government.

Washington has also not given out instructions to American participants in the conference.

The US has been criticised for its response to the coronavirus spread, with the CDC accused of lagging behind other countries in providing testing for suspected cases of the deadly virus.

Critics say the expensive American healthcare system, a high number of uninsured people and the country's lack of paid sick leave are factors likely to aid the spread of COVID-19. 

At least 19 people have died from the novel coronavirus in the US.

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