IDF holding joint drills with soldiers from country hit by coronavirus

The unnamed country has dozens of citizens infected with the deadly virus

The IDF Search and Rescue Unit takes part in a drill, December 2019. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The IDF Search and Rescue Unit takes part in a drill, December 2019.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The IDF is holding joint military exercises at an army base in the South with an Asian country where the deadly 2019-nCoV coronavirus has infected dozens.
According to a report by Army Radio and confirmed to The Jerusalem Post, notwithstanding concern over the spread of the virus, the IDF decided to continue with the scheduled exercise to not jeopardize relations with the unnamed country, which is said to be an important ally for Israel.
While the Asian soldiers who are in direct contact with IDF troops are allowed to move freely at the base where the drill is taking place, they are being checked several times a day by military doctors for symptoms of the virus, including fevers.
Preparations have been made to quarantine any soldiers found to be carrying the coronavirus, which has killed at least 813 people – more than the related Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome epidemic in 2002-2003 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012.
A father of an IDF soldier serving on the base where the drill is taking place told Army Radio he saw no reason to risk the lives of Israeli soldiers despite the assurances by the military.
“I am sending my daughter to the army this morning with great fear,” he said. “There is a feeling of betrayal and of an irresponsible act. I want to believe that nobody is making money at the expense of our soldiers’ health. No excuse is worth the risk.”
“All required medical inspections have been undertaken and even intensified,” the IDF said. “At the moment, there is no concern about infection from coronavirus during the joint activity. The IDF is acting in accordance with the instructions of the Health Ministry and the chief medical officer to prevent those in the service of the IDF from being infected and to maintain their health and well-being.”
The Health Ministry on Friday updated its procedures for travelers arriving from several East Asian countries, including the one whose soldiers are currently training with IDF troops, due to the spread of the virus.
In addition, anyone who has been in close contact with an individual with the virus must also be tested.
The Health Ministry on Sunday called on citizens to reconsider nonessential travel to a series of Southeast Asian destinations, including the one whose soldiers are currently training with IDF troops.
Following a situational assessment, the ministry said citizens should now reconsider plans to travel to Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao, South Korea and Taiwan. A warning regarding travel to China, the epicenter of the virus, has been in place since January 26.
On Friday, the ministry updated its procedures for travelers arriving from several East Asian countries. In a statement, the ministry said travelers coming from the named countries who have flu-like symptoms such as high fever, persistent cough, difficulty breathing or any other respiratory symptoms must seek immediate medical help.
Eytan Halon and Reuters contributed to this report.


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