Gantz enters quarantine after coming into contact with coronavirus carrier
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Gantz enters quarantine after coming into contact with coronavirus carrier

Defense minister’s office says he feels good, will continue to work in isolation until tests come back

Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on June 28, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on June 28, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz entered quarantine on Wednesday after coming into contact with a confirmed coronavirus carrier, his office said.

“Gantz feels good and will continue to manage the ministry’s matters and the rest of his public work from isolation,” his office said.

According to his spokesperson, Gantz came into contact with the confirmed coronavirus carrier a week and a half ago, last Sunday evening.

“Out of concerns of exposure… from a desire and a responsibility to prevent spreading [the virus] and following consultation with medical authorities, Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz decided to enter quarantine until a coronavirus test and an epidemiological survey are completed,” his office said.

It said the carrier he had come in contact with was a member of his family.

“I feel great and plan to continue working as always, just from afar,” Gantz wrote in a tweet.

“I will do a coronavirus test and an epidemiological survey, and I will follow the guidelines. There’s no room for taking chances,” he added.

His office said special equipment and software would be installed in his home to allow him to continue working on sensitive defense-related matters.

Several other senior public officials have had to enter self-isolation for fear that they had contracted the virus.

On Saturday, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana entered quarantine after the head of the Border Police force tested positive for COVID-19. Ohana said he had decided to voluntarily self-isolate out of an abundance of caution, even though his two meetings with Border Police Commander Yaakov Shabtai did not meet the Health Ministry standards requiring quarantine.

“[People] shouldn’t take risks, especially considering the nature of my meetings,” Ohana wrote on Facebook, noting he was supposed to take part in Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

Ohana said he took a coronavirus test that came back negative.

As public security minister, Ohana oversees the police, who have taken on a central role in Israel’s fight against the coronavirus by being tasked with enforcing rules mandating mask-wearing and self-quarantine orders.

Police officers guard at the entrance to a neighborhood in the central city of Lod that was placed on lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, on July 3, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Gantz was nearly required to enter quarantine after coming into contact with Shabtai earlier this month at a Jerusalem memorial service, which they attended along with President Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi. In that case, Gantz, Rivlin, and Kohavi were found to not need to enter self-isolation.

Other ministers and top military officials have been forced into quarantine during various times since the start of the pandemic, though only two lawmakers — then-health minister Yaakov Litzman and Joint List MK Sami Abou Shahadeh — have tested positive for the virus.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday Israel was again in the midst of a “major outbreak” as the number of active coronavirus cases in Israel passed 10,000 for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 1,300 new coronavirus cases were confirmed on Wednesday morning, the Health Ministry said, bringing the number of active cases to 14,104.

Among the active cases, 107 people were in serious condition, of whom 36 were on ventilators. The death toll stands at 343.

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