As the number of coronavirus patients continue to rise, the defense establishment turned Tel Aviv’s Dan Panorama and Jerusalem’s Dan hotels into quarantine facilities, IDF spokesperson reported on Tuesday. 20 patients will be admitted now and no unauthorized persons will be allowed in.
Preparations have been made by the Home Front Command, Magen David Adom and the police to fully isolate the facilities. A specially constructed sterile area has been set up at the entrances to the hotels, and both the hotel’s security and the police will guard the sites to make sure no sick individuals leave.
Home Front Command leader Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai said two other hotels, one in Haifa and one in the South, will open soon. With at least 500 rooms, each hotel is able to hold between 500-1,000 patients. All medical care will be provided by the Health Ministry.
"I thank the Home Front Command and the Health Ministry for the cooperation,” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said, adding that “a vision that last Friday seemed ambitious and distant - will be starting tomorrow. The way to fight the spread of the corona is to collaborate, increase testing and transition to community isolation and recovery. "
As of Monday evening, there were 255 Israelis diagnosed with the virus, including five soldiers. Another 3,700 servicepeople are in quarantine, including 117 lone soldiers who are currently being housed at a military resort facility in the northern coastal town of Givat Olga.
Nevertheless, “now is not the time to panic,” Yadai said.
According to IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman, one major-general, Itai Virob, the commander of the Military Colleges, as well as brigadier-generals and colonels are in quarantine. The military has set up specialized communication equipment to allow them to communicate with their subordinates while in isolation.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi has not been checked for the virus.
On Monday, the IDF said patient 247 is a career soldier who contracted the disease from another infected person (patient 174). The 22-year-old was the fifth service member to be diagnosed with the virus.
The Defense Ministry also reported that an employee of a company located in Petah Tikva was diagnosed as a carrier of the virus on Sunday. The employee has been admitted to a hospital, and following an epidemiological investigation carried out in collaboration with the Health Ministry, his colleagues were instructed to begin a period of quarantine, and the facility where the man was working is being sanitized.
According to Zilberman, as part of the decisions made by Kochavi, all soldiers currently serving in closed bases will remain there for the coming month, and on open bases (where troops go home every night) the military will reduce the number of soldiers serving there and will see troops working in shifts. In addition, anyone visiting bases housing sensitive equipment will have their temperature checked before entering.
While the March draft will continue as normal, the military is concerned that the virus will cause the August draft to be postponed.
Bennett signed an order on Sunday authorizing the IDF to mobilize 2,000 reserve personnel for the Home Front Command. Only 700 have so far been called up.
The Home Front Command, which has been working with Magen David Adom, has been developing educational and instructional materials about the coronavirus and will open a website about the virus and a national hotline in the coming days.
The unit is also exploring the possibility of helping authorities carry out drive-through testing of individuals, similar to what is being done in South Korea. The model, inspired by fast-food drive-thru restaurants, sees cars drive into parking lots where medical personnel register motorists and take their temperatures and take samples from their throats. Drivers do not need to leave their cars and the results from the tests are ready within 10 minutes.
Yadai also explained that should the flow of goods be disrupted, the unit will take over the country’s supply lines to ensure that those in quarantine have enough food and medicine, as well as the general public.