Israeli Health Minister Diagnosed With Coronavirus; Top Officials Forced to Quarantine

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, March 11, 2020
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, March 11, 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife were diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to an announcement made by the Health Ministry.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 72

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The 71-year-old United Torah Judaism chairman and his wife are reported to feel well, and will remain in isolation under supervision. in accordance with the Health Ministry guidelines.

Following Litzman's diagnosis with the coronavirus, Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen and the head of the National Security Council, Meir Ben Shabbat, will be required to enter isolation in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines. Yaakov Aryeh Alter, who heads the Hassidic community to which Litzman belongs, will also have to enter isolation. Litzman's office staff were also quarantined Thursday morning, and will continue working from home. 

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov was also required to enter isolation after having met with Litzman. Bar Siman Tov will work from his home office, and said that he feels fine. "We prepared for this possibility and assessed accordingly."

He stressed that it does not change the management of the coronavirus crisis. "The need to quarantine can happen to all of us and it is crucial that we follow instructions. From here, I call on Israel's citizens to follow Health Ministry guidelines." 

Litzman will continue to maintain his regular schedule from his home. After the results of epidemiological investigations, notifications to self-quarantine will be sent to those who have been exposed to the minister and his wife in the past two weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was updated with details. 

In recent weeks, Litzman has held meetings and discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with many in the government and the health care system, meaning that some senior figures in the government and health care sector may need to enter isolation. However, some discussions in recent times have been conducted by video or telephone, so the extent of exposure has not yet been fully revealed.

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