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Gantz becomes latest cabinet minister to catch COVID-19

Defense minister, vaccinated 4 times, says he is feeling ‘good,’ urges all to get the shots, will continue to work from home; opposition MK Meir Porush also catches virus

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a vote at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, January 17, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a vote at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, January 17, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been diagnosed with COVID-19, his office said Friday, and will work from his home where he is quarantining.

Gantz, 62, has had four doses of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the statement, which noted the minister will be able to continue working using special systems already installed at his home in Rosh HaAyin.

Gantz tweeted: “I feel good because I am vaccinated. Keep healthy, keep to [health] rules and go and get vaccinated.”

On Thursday Gantz was with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, and other top-level army officers at a meeting in Tel Aviv, the Kan public broadcaster noted. This will likely lead all those who attended to get tested.

Gantz joins a list of other cabinet ministers who have recently been infected with COVID that includes Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Culture and Sport Minister Chilli Tropper, Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev.

United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, on November 09, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition MK Meir Porush, 66, of the United Torah Judaism party was also diagnosed with the virus on Friday.

Bennett was required to quarantine last month after his daughter caught the virus.

Under new isolation rules which began Wednesday, vaccinated people who are infected but asymptomatic need two negative antigen tests, on the fourth and fifth day, to be released from quarantine. Unvaccinated asymptomatic people need the test on the fifth day to be conducted at a recognized testing facility, and cannot rely on a home test.

Those who test positive on the fourth or fifth day are required to keep isolating for a total of seven days, without having to conduct an additional test.

And those still displaying symptoms are required to keep isolating for a total of 10 days.

Unvaccinated people exposed to a confirmed coronavirus carrier must also isolate for five days and get a test on the fifth day at a recognized testing facility. Those with immunity are exempt from quarantine if they test negative after being in close contact with an infected person.

The recent infections came as the highly infectious Omicron variant has rampaged across the country driving daily caseloads to record highs.

Health Ministry figures published Thursday evening showed there were 65,117 people diagnosed the day before and 412,460 active virus patients.

Though more infectious, Omicron is considered less aggressive than other strains and while the number of seriously ill patients has also risen to 593, the proportion of patients in that condition is relatively low.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, 8,370 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Israel.

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