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Israel’s health minister tests positive for coronavirus, Netanyahu in isolation again

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife were diagnosed with coronavirus and are in isolation following guidelines, his ministry said on Thursday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-enters quarantine as a result, only one day after his first isolation stint.

Several other senior officials, including the head of Israel’s foreign intelligence agency Mossad, were also self-isolating due to contact with Litzman.

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov will self-isolate at a facility at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, he said on Twitter. He said he would continue managing the crisis through “digital means.”

It was also reported that the head of Mossad spy agency, Yossi Cohen will self-isolate at the intelligence agency’s headquarters for three days. The head of National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat was asked to go into isolation after coming in contact with Litzman.

Netanyahu had gone into isolation previously after a top aide tested positive for the virus, but Netanyahu has so far tested negative.

Israel has gone into near-lockdown to try to contain the virus outbreak.

Israel’s large, insular Ultra-Orthodox community, of which Litzman is a member, has been particularly hard hit by infections. In the early phases of the outbreak, some rabbis had pushed back or ignored government-mandated movement restrictions, but resistance appears to have diminished.

On Wednesday Netanyahu announced travel restrictions in and out of the predominately ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak in efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Israel has reported just over 6,000 confirmed cases of infection with the new coronavirus, and 28 people have died of COVID-19.

Ynet, News agencies

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