Israel's health minister gets coronavirus; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Army Chief, other top officials go into isolation - JK News Live


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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Israel's health minister gets coronavirus; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Army Chief, other top officials go into isolation

Coronavirus has forced more top Israeli officials into isolation after the country's health minister, who has had frequent contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tested positive, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife, who also contracted the virus, are in isolation but said they feel well and are being treated, a ministry statement said.

Shortly after the announcement, the prime minister's office said Netanyahu returned to self-quarantine because of his contact with Litzman.

Netanyahu had previously been in isolation after a top aide tested positive for the virus. Netanyahu has tested negative.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported the head of Israel's Mossad spy agency and the National Security Council were asked to self-quarantine because of their interactions with Litzman.

The health ministry's director and Litzman's staff also self-quarantined, and the ministry said requests to enter isolation will be sent to those who came in contact with the minister in the past two weeks.

Israel has gone into near-lockdown to try to contain the outbreak. The country has reported more than 6,200 confirmed cases and 31 people have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Israel's large, insular ultra-Orthodox community, of which Litzman is a member, has been particularly hit hard by infections. In the early phases of the outbreak, some rabbis pushed back or ignored government-mandated movement restrictions, but resistance appears to have diminished.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Aviv Kochavi, along with two of his senior commanders, went into isolation on Tuesday after a senior commander they came in contact with recently was tested positive for coronavirus, the army said. The development came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close advisers were placed under quarantine after an aide on Parliament affairs tested positive for coronavirus.

Earlier, Lt Gen Kochavi, along with Home Front Command head Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai and Operations Directorate Commander Gen. Aharon Haliva, had attended a meeting 10 days ago in which a commander in the reserves, who later tested positive for the coronavirus, participated.

The commander who tested positive, as per local media reports, is the head of the Home Front Command's liaison unit to local authorities in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox Tel Aviv suburb where 508 residents had tested positive for the virus till Monday.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu ordered a police cordon around the largely ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, east of Tel Aviv, to limit movement to and from the city. Bnei Brak has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in Israel.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia or death. (Agencies)

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