Israel's Defense Minister Gantz Tests Positive for COVID

A number of Israeli lawmakers have been infected with COVID in recent weeks, including the foreign and finance ministers

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Reichman University (formerly IDC Herzliya) in November.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Reichman University (formerly IDC Herzliya) in November.Credit: Hadas Parush
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz went into isolation on Friday after testing positive for COVID-19. 

"I feel good because I am vaccinated. In the coming days I will manage security affairs from my home," Gantz wrote on Twitter.

Israel recently shortened its isolation period for COVID carriers from seven to five days. A number of Israeli lawmakers have been infected with coronavirus in recent weeks, including Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman. 

The highly infectious omicron has lead to an unprecedented number of daily infections in Israel throughout January. On Tuesday, Israel marked a new record with 71,593 people testing positive for COVID. 

On Thursday, the government decided to exempt schoolchildren from quarantine if they are exposed to a COVID carrier as record numbers of students are stuck at home, threatening to drive the economy to a standstill. The exemption starts next Thursday. On Thursday there were nearly 200,000 people in quarantine. 

Meanwhile, Israeli children aged 5-11 at risk of developing serious symptoms from coronavirus will now be able to get a vaccine booster shot, after the Health Ministry told the country's health maintenance organizations to begin rolling out the third dose. The decision applies only to 163 at-risk children in the country. 

Dr. Emilia Anis, director of the ministry's epidemiology department, sent a letter with the instruction to begin giving booster to this group, which began receiving their first and second shots before other children in the same age group. Anis wrote that the booster should be given to the children three months after their second shot.

There were 593 COVID patients in serious condition on Thursday, including 112 on ventilators, according to the Health Ministry. The past week has seen 63 people die of COVID in Israel, with an average of eight deaths a day. 

Reuters contributed to this report.

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