JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Paramedics dressed in head-to-toe protective gear stood guard at dedicated polling stations where Israelis under quarantine from the coronavirus voted in Monday’s election.
One by one, voters in face masks and gloves who have been isolated at home after crossing paths with coronavirus carriers filed through more than a dozen tents across the country to fill in their ballot slips in a close contest in which candidates are fighting for every last vote.
Election officials sat on the opposite side of a see-through plastic barrier to make sure things run smoothly.
Ten Israelis have tested positive for the virus and about 5,500 others, including those who have recently traveled to coronavirus hot spots, are under home quarantine, according to Israel’s health ministry.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking re-election under the weight of an imminent corruption trial, with the country’s third ballot in less than a year predicted to end in another deadlock.
Seeking to reassure voters over coronavirus fears, Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said he “hopes it will not have any effect at all, because we did all of the things that we should have done”.
Watching from afar outside a dedicated polling station constructed at the back end of an empty parking lot in Jerusalem, voter Rene Oseasohn, who is not in quarantine, said the virus “is a troubling feature but I don’t think there is much we can do about it”.
She said she was trying to keep her distance from other people and to not stay put in one place while hoping for the best.
(Reporting by Stephen Farrell and Eli Berzlon in Jerusalem and Amir Cohen in Ashkelon, Writing by Rami Ayyub, editing by Ed Osmond)