IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi tested negative for the novel coronavirus after coming into contact with someone who had been infected. While Kochavi tested negative he will remain - alongside two other generals - in quarantine until the end of the week.
Kochavi entered self-isolation after he held a meeting with commanders in Home Front Command on March 22, and one of them was diagnosed on Tuesday as being infected, the IDF said.
“In light of this, according to the Health Ministry’s instructions, the chief of staff will be self-quarantining in his office until the end of the week,” the IDF said, adding that he was feeling well, did not have symptoms and would keep his regular schedule. Kochavi's coronavirus test returned negative on Wednesday morning.
OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai and OC Operations Division Maj.-Gen. Aaron Haliva have also self-quarantined until the end of the week.
Earlier Tuesday, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel was in a “good place” in combating the novel coronavirus despite 20 fatalities caused by it.
“There is a light at the end of the corona tunnel,” he said in a daily press conference, adding that there has “not been an exponential growth in the rate of infection and deaths in Israel… We are the country with the lowest mortality rate in relation to the number of infected patients, less than Germany even. We are at a death rate of 0.3% so far.”
If the lockdown is kept in place for too long, there could be more suicides than deaths from the coronavirus, Bennett said.
“We have to understand the massive distress of those who won’t have enough money to pay their rent,” he said. “We may have more suicides than deaths from coronavirus.”
Bennett called on the government to reopen businesses soon after Passover.
Eighty-four soldiers have tested positive for the virus, and another 2,870 are in quarantine.
The government has ordered the Health Ministry to carry out 30,000 tests daily within two weeks. On Tuesday, Bennett said it has been carrying out some 6,000 tests daily. Israel has spent some NIS 2.4 billion on equipment for healthcare professionals, including ventilators, masks, protective gear and testing kits, he said.
About 1,000 soldiers from Home Front Command started distributing food and other necessities to the elderly and other at-risk populations on Tuesday.
The IDF is working with local municipalities and regional councils to identify those who need assistance.
Home Front Command is providing assistance in various areas to government ministries, MDA and the civilian population in an effort to curtail the spread of the contagion.
Beginning Tuesday at noon, some 700 unarmed soldiers joined police officers in districts across the country to help enforce the partial lockdown.