Health Minister Tests Positive for COVID-19; Near 7,000 in Israel Infected

April 3, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman

Friday, 3 April 2020 | As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel approaches 7,000, the nation’s top brass are being forced into quarantine after multiple exposures in high places.

Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was confirmed to have the virus. He has recently met with several top officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, who will now have to be quarantined. Netanyahu had just exited quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus from one of his advisers. The premier has already tested negative for carrying the virus, but he will continue to work from his home in Jerusalem.

Litzman attended a session of the Knesset (Parliament) last week, and security officials are reportedly reviewing footage of the session to see who else came into contact with the health minister. More officials will likely be sent into isolation after possible exposure.

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov will also quarantine after meeting with Litzman recently. Both Litzman and Siman-Tov as Israel’s top health officials will continue their battle against COVID-19 from home.

“Needing to go into quarantine can happen to anyone, and we must abide by the orders,” Siman-Tov said, as quoted by the Times of Israel. “I continue to call for citizens of Israel to abide by the Health Ministry’s directives.”

The head of the Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency) and Israel’s national security adviser will also be quarantined after possible exposure from other sources, the Times of Israel reported.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Aviv Kochavi has been quarantined and is working remotely this week after possible exposure at a conference last week. The IDF chief has reportedly tested negative for the virus.

Ten Israelis died on Thursday—the highest casualty count in one day—and another this morning, raising the total death count to 37. The victims have largely been elderly citizens or suffered from preexisting health conditions that compromised their immune systems.

Some 338 people have recovered from the illness, Ynetnews reported.

Medical workers have conducted over 87,000 tests, the Times of Israel reported, noting that most of the people confirmed to be infected—23% of those tested—were in their 20s.

The virus has proven most dangerous to the elderly and people who are immunocompromised. Younger people often experience milder symptoms or no symptoms at all, meaning they can be carriers of the virus without realizing it.

Israel, like much of the world, is imposing strict restrictions on its people in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. Israelis are restricted to their homes except for necessary errands, such as buying groceries or going to work (for the few who have not been sent home to work remotely or on leave). The Health Ministry also recently required people to wear face masks when going out in public.

The Jewish state is also arming itself for the battle against the virus and converted a missile production factory to begin producing ventilators for people who are in serious condition.

More than 900,000 people have been infected by COVID-19 worldwide with over 45,000 reported deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The nations with the most reported cases are the US, Italy, Spain, China, Germany, France, Iran and the United Kingdom.

Posted on April 3, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 3, 2020)

Photo Credit: REUVEN FRIZI/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org