Army chief, 2 generals ordered to self-quarantine after meeting infected officer
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Army chief, 2 generals ordered to self-quarantine after meeting infected officer

Military says IDF head Aviv Kohavi, top officers Yadai and Haliva to remain in home isolation until at least the end of the week; will be tested

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, right, visits the Home Front Command in Ramle and speaks to its commander Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, left, on March 18, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, right, visits the Home Front Command in Ramle and speaks to its commander Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, left, on March 18, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and two other generals entered into self-quarantine Tuesday after taking part in a meeting with an officer who later tested positive for the disease, the military said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, Kohavi and the two generals — Home Front Command chief Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai and of IDF Operations Directorate head Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva — met with the infected Home Front Command reserve officer on March 22, meaning they will need to remain in quarantine at least until the end of the week, if they do not test positive for the disease.

“The chief of staff feels good, has no symptoms, and will undergo a test in the next few minutes,” the IDF said in a statement.

The military said Kohavi will self-isolate in his office and will able to maintain his usual schedule of activities while in quarantine.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and senior officials from Israel’s security services, including Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, center-left, meet to discuss growing tensions with terror groups in the Gaza Strip at the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters on February 23, 2020. (Tal Oz/Defense Ministry)

The IDF chief and two major generals were the latest senior officials to require self-quarantine, joining interim Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a number of Knesset members, and many of their aides.

This will be Haliva’s second time requiring home quarantine. He was also forced to isolate himself earlier this month after returning home from a vacation in Italy.

Netanyahu and his advisers voluntarily entered quarantine as a precaution until Health Ministry officials completed their epidemiological investigation into whether he was exposed to the coronavirus, his office said Monday, hours after stating the move was unnecessary.

“Even before the epidemiological investigation is over and to remove all doubt, the prime minister has decided that he and his close staff will remain in isolation until the epidemiological investigation is completed,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Under Health Ministry orders, tens of thousands of Israelis are in self-quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus and the entire country is in an almost total lockdown that has seen most of the population confined to their homes, only allowed out for essential needs.

Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

There have been 4,831 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, the Health Ministry said Tuesday morning. That includes 83 in serious condition, of whom 69 are on ventilators. Another 95 are in moderate condition. Eighteen Israelis have died of the disease.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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