Total of 663 service members have been diagnosed with the virus; military says troops on furlough can’t meet in groups of over 5 people

Israeli army Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a IDF lab in central Israel on July 15, 2020. (photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)
Israeli army Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a IDF lab in central Israel on July 15, 2020. (photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)


The military reopened its quarantine treatment facility in Ashkelon for troops who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said Thursday.

The facility, which has a capacity of 500 beds, will see 200-250 troops moved there by the end of day, and is expected to reach full capacity in the coming days. Two additional facilities – including in Haifa, which will be able to treat soldiers in serious condition – will open and will be able to provide another 500 beds if deemed necessary.

A total of 772 service members are currently sick with the coronavirus, all in light condition and in coronavirus facilities.
Another 10,615 are currently in quarantine.

It is believed most were infected outside the military.

Due to the significant rise in infected troops, Zilberman said all troops on furlough would not be allowed to gather with groups of more than five people except for immediate family to minimize contact with others.

More decisions are expected to be made on Monday, including whether or not to stop all furloughs and keep troops on base like during the first wave.

The military’s lab is also continuing to carry out between 500-700 tests per day and will likely increase to 1,000 tests, Zilberman said. The military’s call center, where troops can request a test, has also increased its capacity and has brought the wait time down from close to half an hour to five and half minutes.

Maj.-Gen. Itzik Turgeman, head of the Technology and Logistics Division, stressed the importance of adherence to the Health Ministry regulations.

“Despite the increase in the number of cases and those in isolation within the IDF, the level of morbidity is similar to that of the rest of the population, and we must act to stop the coronavirus from spreading,” he wrote.

Stressing the need to wear masks, keep social distance and observe personal hygiene, Turgeman told troops “we will stop the spread of the virus and maintain our health and fitness.”

Zilberman also said the IDF is continuing to run 19 coronavirus facilities – 15 for 4,100 sick individuals and another four facilities for 760 people.

A thousand Home Front Command reservists have been called up to assist in Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities that have been hit hard in the second wave, and continue to conduct training and information sessions to prevent further outbreaks as well as distribute food and to communities that have been placed under lockdown like Lod, Ramle and Betar Illit.

On Thursday, it was reported that the Health Ministry announced Maj-Gen. Amir Abulafia, head of the IDF Planning Directorate, was appointed as coronavirus “czar.” According to Zilberman, however, no decision has yet been made.

Earlier, Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed his ministry to prepare to assist efforts to increase testing and tracing, as well as to quickly assist medical personnel.

Gantz – who held a call with Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Itzik Shmuli, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir, head of the Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Uri Gordin and other senior officials – said efforts must be stepped up and action taken to prevent certain cities from turning into red zones where there are large outbreaks of the virus.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post