Israelis told to wear face masks in public, mark religious holidays with close family only – Reuters

Posted April 2, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Israelis told to wear face masks in public, mark religious holidays with close family only – Reuters

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – All Israelis should wear face masks while in public as a precaution against the coronavirus, and upcoming Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays should be marked only with immediate family, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

In televised remarks, Netanyahu also announced curbs on movement around an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town that has experienced a disproportionately large outbreak.

Israel has taken stringent measures to try to halt the spread of the virus, after recording more than 6,000 cases. At least 25 Israelis have died of COVID-19, according to Health Ministry data.

“We ask you, citizens of Israel, all of you, to wear masks in the public sphere,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks, adding that people could improvise “with a scarf or any other facial covering” in the absence of factory-produced masks.

Increasingly tight restrictions have largely confined Israelis to their homes, forcing businesses to close and causing unemployment to skyrocket to 24.4%.

On Monday, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Israel would spend 80 billion shekels ($22 billion) to help the economy weather the crisis and predicted a gradual return of business activity after the Passover holiday from April 8-15.

Netanyahu on Wednesday said the government would give Israeli families 500 shekels per child, up to a maximum of four children. The elderly would also receive 500 shekels, Netanyahu said, terming all the payments a “Passover gift”.

Those stipends would cost the state a total of 1.5 billion shekels, public broadcaster Kan estimated.

Netanyahu also said Israel’s majority Jews must mark Passover “with the nuclear family only,” adding that including elderly relatives in celebrations “would be to endanger them”.

Those same restrictions apply to Muslims and Christians, Netanyahu said, who make up most of Israel’s 21% Arab minority and will mark Easter and the beginning of Ramadan, respectively, later this month.

Israeli authorities will also tighten curbs on movement around Bnai Brak, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town near Tel Aviv, which the Channel 12 TV news on Wednesday projected may account for as many as 30% of the coronavirus cases nationwide.

“We have decided to reduce to the minimum necessary the access and egress from the city,” Netanyahu said, while adding that residents would still be allowed to move around within the city if required.

Israeli officials describe the ultra-Orthodox as especially prone to contagion because their districts tend to be poor and congested, and in normal times they are accustomed to holding thrice-daily prayers with often large congregations. Some ultra-Orthodox rabbis have also cast doubt on the coronavirus risk.

Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Additional reporting by Dan Williams, Steve Scheer and Tova Cohen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Hugh Lawson

 

Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy

Posted April 1, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy – SFChronicle.com

Note: This story has been updated with comments from the U.S. Navy and other developments.

The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier with more than 100 sailors infected with the coronavirus pleaded Monday with U.S. Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.

The unusual plea from Capt. Brett Crozier, a Santa Rosa native, came in a letter obtained exclusively by The Chronicle and confirmed by a senior officer on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which has been docked in Guam following a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew of more than 4,000 less than a week ago.

“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

In the four-page letter to senior military officials, Crozier said only a small contingent of infected sailors have been off-boarded. Most of the crew remain aboard the ship, where following official guidelines for 14-day quarantines and social distancing is impossible.

“Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this,” Crozier wrote. “The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”

He asked for “compliant quarantine rooms” on shore in Guam for his entire crew “as soon as possible.”

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk,” Crozier wrote. “Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”

The Navy did not respond to The Chronicle’s requests for comment Monday, but on Tuesday morning as the news spread, the Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly spoke to CNN.

“I heard about the letter from Capt. Crozier (Tuesday) morning, I know that our command organization has been aware of this for about 24 hours and we have been working actually the last seven days to move those sailors off the ship and get them into accommodations in Guam. The problem is that Guam doesn’t have enough beds right now and we’re having to talk to the government there to see if we can get some hotel space, create tent-type facilities,” Modly said.

“We don’t disagree with the (captain) on that ship and we’re doing it in a very methodical way because it’s not the same as a cruise ship, that ship has armaments on it, it has aircraft on it, we have to be able to fight fires if there are fires on board the ship, we have to run a nuclear power plant, so there’s a lot of things that we have to do on that ship that make it a little bit different and unique but we’re managing it and we’re working through it,” he said.

“We’re very engaged in this, we’re very concerned about it and we’re taking all the appropriate steps,” Modly said.

So far, none of the infected sailors has shown serious symptoms, but the number of those who have tested positive has jumped exponentially since the Navy reported infections in three crew members on March 24, the first time COVID-19 infections had been detected on a naval vessel at sea.

Asked Tuesday what should be done about the Roosevelt, President Trump said he would “let the military make that decision.”

Retired Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told The Chronicle Tuesday in an e-mail that “we should expect more such incidents because warships are a perfect breeding ground for coronavirus.”

“Unfortunately, naval vessels are ideal breeding grounds for the spread of viruses because it is impossible to do social distancing on one” because of the tight quarters on board, Stavridis said.

The ship’s problems will “compound,” Stavridis said, because you can’t tie the vessel up “and send everyone ashore. It is full of weapons, billions of dollars of equipment, fire hazards, and nuclear reactors.”

 

Syrian media says Israeli war planes attack near Homs 

Posted April 1, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Syrian media says Israeli war planes attack near Homs | The Times of Israel

No immediate comment from Israel; Syrian opposition says target of strike was al-Sharyat military airport used by Iran

F-16 jets fly above the Herzliya airport on November 15, 2019. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

F-16 jets fly above the Herzliya airport on November 15, 2019. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Syrian air defenses in the central province of Homs opened fire Tuesday night on missiles launched from what state media claimed were Israeli warplanes.

Syrian State TV said the warplanes fired the missiles while flying in Lebanese airspace. The outlet said the warplanes targeted a Syrian army position without saying where exactly. It said some of the missiles had been shot down, though Syrian media has been known to make such claims falsely.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), an opposition war monitor, said Israeli warplanes fired eight missiles at al-Shayrat air base in Homs province. It said explosions were heard and believed to have been caused by anti-aircraft defenses while intercepting these strikes, but gave no further details.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

SPADEX@Amansin40578878

conducted airstrikes targeting the Shayrat Military Airport in the Region in .

This video shows an air-to-surface missile (rocket motor equipped) launched by Air Force’s F-16Ds hitting its target

Embedded video

If the target was al-Shayrat base it would be the second time this month that the Israel Defense Forces has reportedly struck the site which is said to be used by Iran as a forward base for bringing weapons into the country.

On March 5, according to Syrian opposition sources, a series of Israeli airstrikes targeted four Hezbollah-linked sites in central and southern Syria.

SOHR said the Israeli attack targeted two military airports near the city of Homs in western-central Syria — al-Shayrat and al-Dabaa — as well as two locations in the area of Quneitra, across from Israel’s Golan Heights.

On March 2, as Israel held elections, the IDF bombed a Syrian vehicle that the military said was used in an attempted sniper attack on Israeli troops near the Golan border.

The IDF acknowledged the strike.

SOHR said the vehicle belonged to members of a militia loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Only Truth@TheOnlyTruthInc

: It’s the second time this month targets the airbase. This site has reportedly become ‘s air base in used to store weapons & operations command.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

In recent years, Israel has repeatedly carried out airstrikes in Syria against targets belonging to Iran and its regional proxies Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias.

Though Israeli officials generally refrain from taking responsibility for specific strikes in Syria, they have acknowledged conducting hundreds to thousands of raids in the country since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

These have overwhelmingly been directed against Iran and its proxies, notably the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, but the IDF has also carried out strikes on Syrian air defenses when those batteries have fired at Israeli jets.

Israel has in the past accused Iran of attempting to set up rocket launching crews and other “terror infrastructure” in the Syrian Golan Heights, to be used against Israel, as well as of trying to entrench a military presence in the country.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

 

IDF chief in quarantine after contact with coronavirus sufferer

Posted March 31, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: IDF chief in quarantine after contact with coronavirus sufferer

Aviv Kochavi attended debate 10 days ago with individual later confirmed to have been infected; heads of Home Front Command and Operations Directorate also present and also in isolation until the weekend

Ynet|
Published: 03.31.20 , 16:42

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Tuesday went into isolation after it emerged that he had attended a debate 10 days ago at which a coronavirus sufferer was also present.

In line with Health Ministry directives, the military leader’s isolation will last until the weekend, which will be 14 days after he had contact with the individual.

תוכנית תנופה של אביב כוכבי

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)
Kochavi is in quarantine at his office and from there will continue with his regular schedule. An IDF spokesman said that the chief of staff felt good, had no symptoms and would be examined Tuesday.
The head of the IDF Home Front Command and the head of the IDF Operations Directorate were also present at the debate.

 

US expert: Israeli response to coronavirus crisis is ‘right on target’

Posted March 31, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: US expert: Israeli response to coronavirus crisis is ‘right on target’ | The Times of Israel

Compared with the decentralized health system in the US, the Jewish state’s reaction to COVID-19 has been relatively swift and well-organized, says data scientist Dr. Martin Zand

Dr. Martin Zand (left) works with Jiong Wang, B.Med, M.S., research assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. (Courtesy University of Rochester Medical Center)

Dr. Martin Zand (left) works with Jiong Wang, B.Med, M.S., research assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. (Courtesy University of Rochester Medical Center)

When American medical expert Dr. Martin Zand visited Israel recently, the first coronavirus cases in the country were being diagnosed and publicized. He got on a plane back to the United States shortly afterwards, but he’s kept thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic, and the responses to it in both the US and Israel.

Zand is tackling the pandemic from many angles at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York. A practicing physician, he is the medical center’s senior associate dean for clinical research, as well as the co-director of its Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He coordinates the center’s research response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He described his role in a phone interview with The Times of Israel as “a combination between an air-traffic controller and a matchmaker,” adding, “I match needs with resources, trying to harmonize these efforts.”

Asked how he keeps himself calm, Zand said that “you have to remain calm in order to be effective and get things done. Pray for the best possible response in bringing cutting-edge therapies to our community and national efforts. Panic is not going to help.”

Zand stayed with family during his visit and he’s been able to continue monitoring the COVID-19 responses in both the US and Israel.

“From what I can see from the news, the response in Israel has actually been right on target,” Zand said. “Social distancing, travel restrictions, the testing and the hospital preparedness, the national response has all been very good.”

He’s a little more critical when it comes to the US. He says there is a “national shortage of a whole variety of supplies for COVID-19 testing.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to the media at the Javits Convention Center, which is being turned into a hospital to help fight coronavirus cases, on March 24, 2020 in New York City. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP)

Dramatically, in a press conference on March 25, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pleaded with the Trump administration to send badly-needed ventilators to help his state, which he called “the canary in the coal mine.”

“We have the highest and the fastest rate of infection,” Cuomo said. “Deal with the issue here. Deploy the resources. Deploy the ventilators here in New York for our apex. And then, after the apex passes here, once we’re [past] that critical point, deploy the ventilators to the other parts of the country where they are needed.”

Asked about such a system of sequential sharing, Zand said that its concept “is to make sure we shift resources to places that have the most need,” and that his labs have shifted to provide reagents for tests.

He said there is “a national shifting in the US of resources,” and although he has “not been involved in these discussions,” he said, “I know there is coordination in the Rochester health care system to make sure that everyone has adequate resource bases to take care of patients, and at this point there were some discussions about shifting resources to other parts of the country.”

A Samaritan’s Purse crew works on building an emergency field hospital equipped with a respiratory unit in New York’s Central Park across from the Mount Sinai Hospital, Sunday, March 29, 2020. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

Pros and cons of centralized health care

Zand feels that the decentralized American system of state and county government sometimes works to the nation’s disadvantage. He notes that states and counties all have their own departments of public health, “and at a national level, you don’t have an overruling coordinator of those state efforts in the same way that Israel does.”

According to Zand, “I think the most important contrast between Israel and the US health care system with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic is that Israel has a centralized health care system as well as a central public health care system. That has really helped coordinate the response across the country.”

He said that there are also efforts being coordinated in the US, “but it’s easier to achieve synchrony when you have an integrated national public health system.”

One way Zand sees this reflected in the two countries is in terms of social distancing. He explained that “in the US, because there’s no centralized public health system, social distancing measures are being adapted or defined differently by states.”

He cited “nuances of social distancing in different areas, attempts to deal with hardships of social distancing, especially for people who are involved in critical industries or health care during the crisis and need to work.” And, he asked, “what do you do for single parents who have children at home? How do you work from home when taking care of your elderly family members? … I think we’re all struggling with it.”

Police patrol on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem on March 28, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yet, he said, social distancing is one of the “essential pieces” in fighting the virus, a practice that is “really widely accepted and recognized,” along with sheltering in place, maintaining a distance of two meters from people outside, hand-washing, only going out for groceries, medical care or medications, and closing all nonessential businesses in high-risk areas.

“That’s certainly what Israel did early,” Zand said. “Those are a good thing.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will follow social distancing even in Israel’s centralized system, he notes.

Israeli police officers seen raiding the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, closing shops and dispersing public gatherings in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, March 24, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“It’s going to depend on what the local character of social distancing is,” Zand said, “how often people take that guidance. Social distancing is only as good as the individuals who adhere to it. These kinds of local, regional differences make a difference in how effective it is, how the virus spreads in different regions in Israel.”

Whether it’s a centralized or decentralized system, whether in Israel or the US, Zand recommends following basic guidelines.

“If I had one message to leave to you,” he said, it’s that there is “hope for vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, but it’s going to take a while. We really need to focus on slowing this epidemic” through “public health measures like washing your hands, social distancing, staying home except for very, very essential things, shopping for food and medical concerns. Give the system a chance to come up with this treatment.”

 

Israel and the demise of the global village

Posted March 30, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Israel and the demise of the global village – www.israelhayom.com

Israel’s ability to protect itself and adapt its economy to the new post-global village reality will in large part determine how it survives and prospers in the post-global village world now taking shape.

In the face of the steeply rising number of coronavirus patients and the breakneck speed of political changes in Israel, few people have stopped to notice that the world we have grown accustomed to living in for the past generation is falling apart. The global village is collapsing under the weight of the pandemic.

How Israel deals with this dramatic turn of events today, and in the coming weeks, months and years will determine both how we emerge from the present crisis and how we manage in the new world now taking form.

Israel’s food supply system is a perfect example of the global changes to being wrought by the virus. In Israel, five basic foodstuffs are produced locally: fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry, and milk. Most grains, sugar, rice, salt, meat, and other foodstuffs are imported.

Out of a total agricultural workforce of 70,000, 25,000 are migrant workers from Thailand and another 25,000 are from the Palestinian Authority. According to Agriculture Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, concerns over the coronavirus prevented 1,500 workers from Thailand scheduled to arrive at the beginning of the month from entering the country. The Palestinian workforce is down to 18,000 and dropping due to the quarantine the PA has placed on its population.

The labor shortages couldn’t come at a worse time. Currently, there are a half billion shekels worth of fruit and vegetables ready for harvest. If they aren’t picked in the next three weeks, they will rot on the trees and in the fields.

Three weeks ago, the HaShomer HaHadash organization began getting flooded with calls from farmers for help. HaShomer HaHadash is a volunteer agricultural support organization founded in 2007 to protect Israeli farmers from Arab and Bedouin criminal gangs who extort farmers and ranchers and carry out agricultural theft and sabotage on a massive level.

“These calls were different,” explains HaShomer HaHadash’s leader Yoel Zilberman. “We are used to receiving calls about sabotage, and extortion and sending our volunteers to guard and herd. These calls were about the harvest, the national food supply.”

Zilberman and his colleagues realized the implications of the loss of a harvest for Israel’s food supply and began drawing up a plan to help the distressed farmers. Two weeks ago, Zilberman approached Hanegbi and offered to organize a corps of volunteers to save the harvest. Comprised of the organization’s roster of volunteers, cadets at pre-military leadership academies, youth movement alumni and from twelfth graders, Zilberman’s volunteers would work in shifts in the fields. With government finance, Hashomer Hahadash would provide for all their needs. Hanegbi agreed.

Last week, the government approved an emergency order to organize the corps of volunteers. The first hundred young people arrived in the fields on Tuesday. Operating in compliance with Health Ministry guidelines, HaShomer HaHadash launched a smartphone application called “Sundo” where prospective volunteers can join the operation. Zilberman plans to expand his roll of volunteers to include foreign students stranded in Israel with nothing to do after the coronavirus caused their programs to be canceled. He assesses there are up to twenty thousand foreign youth in Israel who could potentially join in the effort.

To be sure, this initiative, which will hopefully enable Israel to surmount the coronavirus-induced international labor shortage, is intended to be a short-term fix. All parties to the initiative assume that once the crisis abates, labor flows will return to their pre-coronavirus levels. But there is no way to know whether this assessment is correct. The coronavirus-induced shortage in migrant, agricultural laborers points to a much wider phenomenon that is unlikely to disappear when the quarantines are over.

The coronavirus pandemic won’t destroy global markets. But it will change them radically and reduce their size and scope. In the case of agriculture, the coronavirus has exposed large-scale vulnerabilities in both agricultural import models and domestic production. At the outset of the crisis, cargo ships laden with foodstuffs from China and Italy were laid up in the ports for weeks until port workers and the Health Ministry could develop protocols for safely offloading them. Dozens of shipments were diverted to Cyprus, at great cost to importers.

Who is to say that food supplies in China or other countries won’t be compromised again in the future? And what happens in the event of war? Naval warfare can easily endanger food imports to Israel over a prolonged period. The model of dependence on foreign suppliers needs to be adapted in the face of what we are learning.

As to domestic production, according to Hanegbi, over the past decade, the number of Israelis engaged in agriculture has decreased by 60 percent as the children of farmers are choosing other professions. Obviously, this is a major vulnerability. Israel needs food security and food security means expanding our domestic agricultural capacity. The incoming government needs to develop a national plan to support domestic agriculture and inspire young people to choose agriculture as a profession and way of life. In Israel, the next crisis is always just around the corner. And the next war or pandemic may make our current endangered harvest look like child’s play.

What is true in relation to agriculture is doubly true in relation to manufacturing. As we are finding in our race to purchase more respirators, it is ill-advised in the extreme to depend on foreign suppliers for food, medical equipment, and medicines in times of crisis. Until January 2020, it seemed perfectly rational to outsource manufacturing to China. Now, as we face global shortages in respirators and other medical equipment, it is obvious that China is not a trustworthy supplier.

This week Jim Geraghty published a timeline of China’s deception of the world regarding the nature of the coronavirus in the National Review. Geraghty showed that Chinese authorities in Wuhan realized the virus was spread between humans in the first week of December. But it wasn’t until January 20 that the Chinese admitted that this was the case.

In the intervening six weeks, the Chinese lied repeatedly about the infectiousness of the virus and jailed doctors and citizen journalists who tried to warn the Chinese people and the world of the danger. Also during those six weeks, five million people left Wuhan. Scores of thousands of them got on airplanes and flew to Europe and the US bringing the virus with them.

Still today, the Chinese are apparently hiding critical information about the virus from the world. While the Western media heralds the Chinese success in bringing the infection rate down to zero inside China, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported this week that the Chinese data are phony. Physicians in Wuhan told the agency’s reporters that the reason the rate of infection has dropped to zero is because the Chinese authorities have banned testing.

The coronavirus exposed a truth that global village fans have spent the past generation denying: Borders are important.

From 1997 until the coronavirus, Europe’s internal national borders were all open. Over the past few weeks, 15 EU member states have shut their doors and thrown away the key. Germany – the birthplace of the vision of the European common market and nation – initially banned the export of protective medical equipment to its European “brethren.”

When the Italians begged for help, no EU member state sent in medical teams to save their fellow Europeans.

If just last month, the heads of the European Commission had the last word in all discussions among EU member states, today no one cares what they have to say. As Professor Thomas Jaeger from the University of Cologne told the Los Angeles Times, “We’re seeing an enormous delegitimation of the authority of the EU government in this crisis. The longer the crisis lasts, the more nationalism will return.”

In many ways, regardless of how long it lasts, the pandemic has already taken a permanent toll on the European Union. EU members have taken one another’s measure and realized that when push comes to shove, they have only their own peoples and governments to rely on. The Italians and Spaniards aren’t likely to care what the feckless bureaucrats in Brussels or the selfish Germans have to say about their national policies after this is over.

The same goes for the UN and other major international governing institutions.

UN Ambassador Danny Danon wrote Wednesday in Israel Hayom that this is the UN’s finest hour. In his words, “UN institutions, particularly the World Health Organization, are proving that the organization remains the main body that the world needs in its struggle with Corona.”

Danon is mistaken, however. The WHO has played an unhelpful, indeed destructive role in this crisis. As Geraghty and others have shown, the WHO was a full partner in China’s dissimulation efforts. The WHO waited until January 21, after the first coronavirus patient was diagnosed in the US, to admit that it is transferred between people despite the fact that WHO officials knew that humans infected one another in early January. This week an Oxford-based research group announced it will no longer base its coronavirus assessments on WHO data, which it considers not credible.

This week Walter Russell Mead noted in the Wall Street Journal that international organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization are playing no significant role in the global fight against the coronavirus.  National leaders and agencies, who are directly responsible for protecting their people are calling the shots irrespective of WHO rules and IMF spending guidelines.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the critical failings of the global village model for international integration. International labor markets, global trade and international governing institutions have proven vulnerable to shocks, unreliable and of limited use. It has also reminded us of foundational truths that have been shunted aside since the end of the Cold War. National borders protect nations. National authorities and fellow citizens are far more reliable and helpful in times of crisis than transnational, and international organizations.

To survive and protect themselves from global shocks, nations must have autarkic agricultural and manufacturing capabilities. China is not a reliable industrial base.

Israel’s ability to protect itself today, and adapt its economy to the new post-global village reality will in large part determine how it survives and prospers in the post-global village world now taking shape.

 

PM to self-isolate after aide turns out to be coronavirus carrier 

Posted March 30, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: PM to self-isolate after aide turns out to be coronavirus carrier – www.israelhayom.com

Although it is unlikely that Netanyahu was infected, his advisers say he is taking the precaution until this can be ruled out.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began self-isolating on Monday after one his aides tested positive for coronavirus, though an initial investigation determined the 70-year-old was unlikely to have been infected, officials said.

Netanyahu is scheduled to undergo a coronavirus test by Tuesday, the officials said. A previous test, on March 15, came back negative.

Israel’s Health Ministry regulations generally require a 14-day self-isolation for anyone deemed to have been in proximity with a carrier, with the duration reduced for the number of days that have passed since the suspected exposure.

The infected aide had been present at an event last week in the Knesset attended by Netanyahu as well as opposition lawmakers with whom he is trying to build an emergency coalition government to help address the coronavirus crisis.

“The preliminary assessment is that there is no need for the PM to self-isolate as he was not in close contact with the patient, nor did he meet with her,” an Israeli official initially said. But later on Monday, the official said Netanyahu had “decided that he and his personal staff will be in isolation until the epidemiological investigation is completed”.

Israel has reported more than 4,000 cases and 16 fatalities as of Monday morning. With the Health Ministry warning that the dead could eventually number in the thousands, Netanyahu was due to convene officials on Monday to discuss a proposed total lockdown of clusters of coronavirus carriers to make sure they remain isolated from the rest of the country.

The Israeli official said Netanyahu has been following medical advice and holding most meetings by video-conference.