Top Israeli officials to isolate after health minister contracts coronavirus

Henrietta Strickland
April 2, 2020

Israel's top health authority has urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to impose a lockdown on an ultra-Orthodox city overwhelmed by the fast-spreading novel coronavirus.

Former Health Minister Gabi Barabash told the channel that without stricter measures, Israel was in danger of "simply becoming a branch of NY". But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms including pneumonia, and lead to death.

Israel's health minister and his wife were diagnosed with coronavirus and are in isolation following guidelines, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Litzman was continuing his normal routine from home, in accordance with doctor's orders.

Since Litzman has met with a number of public figures recently on issues connected with COVID-19, other senior government officials may be required to join him in self-quarantine as well, Haaretz added. "He is not asymptomatic, there are some symptoms, but no more than that", Dr Itamar Grotto, deputy director-general of the ministry, told the Channel.

Israeli media also reported that the head of the Mossad spy agency, Yossi Cohen, may also be compelled to self-isolate after having had contact with Litzman, but that information could not be immediately confirmed.

Benjamin Netanyahu is gone in coronakarantæne from a "precautionary approach" and manage meetings via video.

Shortly after the announcement, the prime minister's office said Netanyahu returned to self-quarantine because of his contact with Litzman. A video aired by Channel 12 showed dozens of worshippers holding hands and dancing in Jerusalem. "In the last week there were more than a few government meetings via telephone, so I don't think he met with any cabinet members".

The rising caseload has spurred Israel to increasingly tighten restrictions, with the latest measures aimed directly at ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities that have resisted social distancing rules.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman visits Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on February 4, 2020.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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