A top Israeli rabbi who repeatedly urged his followers to continue study and prayer in violation of coronavirus mitigation efforts was Friday confirmed to have COVID-19.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, 92, is considered a leading authority in the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community and has hundreds of thousands of followers. He was criticized for refusing to instruct his flock to close down institutions of learning, claiming that “canceling Torah study is more dangerous than the coronavirus.”
On Thursday, coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu said that the ultra-Orthodox community constitutes 40% of all recently diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Israel.
The rabbi, who had been in contact with family members who were confirmed to have the virus but did not quarantine, was set to be admitted to the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak on Friday.
President Reuven Rivlin said he was praying for a "quick and complete recovery to the Torah genius, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed his concern and called on the people of Israel to unite in prayer for his return to good health.
Despite a nation-wide lockdown that has been in place since the eve of the Jewish New Year, Israel's test positivity rate continues to remain high, with 77,660 currently battling the virus in the country.