Coronavirus outbreak: What is going on at the IDF's Camp 80?

Some 76 cadets have tested positive for coronavirus, another 190 are in quarantine. Parents want to self-quarantine their children but the army is refusing.

IDF troops deployed to Haifa to fight in the war against coronavirus (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF troops deployed to Haifa to fight in the war against coronavirus
Parents voice concerns about how an outbreak of the novel coronavirus at Camp Dotan (Base 80) nearly two weeks ago is being handled by the military. The IDF  continues to hold by their decision that the cadets remain on base and refuses to allow the cadets to home quarantine, claiming that it is safest for all that they stay put.
The outbreak began at the basic training camp for non-combat soldiers in central Israel on October 1, when one female cadet returned to base after a furlough at her parents’ home for the Rosh Hashanah holiday and failed to report her symptoms to her commander upon returning to her unit.
Since then, some 76 newly recruited female cadets have tested positive for the virus and another 190 more are in quarantine on base, despite requests from parents wishing to move them to home quarantine, where they would not be in contact with others.
According to one concerned mother of a cadet, who spoke to The Jerusalem Post, the military has not carried out mass-testing of all troops at the base, leading the virus to spread internally and the number of cases to continue rising dramatically.
“In one day they went from six cases to 36,” she said.
Though a senior officer involved in the situation at the base claims that all cadets who are displaying symptoms have been placed in separate rooms and are using separate bathrooms and showers from those who are quarantining or are healthy, parents of cadets at the base claim otherwise.
According to reports in Hebrew media, and reaffirmed by the concerned mother who spoke to the Post, the military has neither sent gloves nor disinfectant to the base. Moreover, she says, soldiers who had been actively displaying symptoms have, on several occasions, been transferred to the rooms of healthy soldiers, which has led to even more cadets coming down with the virus.
“The base is in total chaos, not even delivering food one day until 3:30 p.m.,” said the mother of one of the cadets, a charge which was dismissed outright by the senior officer. “The group quarantining shares bathrooms with other capsules and that has led to mass infection rates.”
Explaining that the parents are “watching this situation breaking the point of safety and security and good judgment,” continued the concerned mother and further said that she and her husband “are very concerned for [their] daughter and for all the soldiers’ health and well-being.”
Her daughter, who self-quarantined for two weeks before joining the IDF out of concern that she might contract the virus, started feeling unwell on Sunday night and was moved to a room with eight other cadets with various symptoms.
“Now what? She will get corona, even though she might only have a sore throat,” the mother said.
The concerned parents, who have made a WhatsApp group to share information regarding the outbreak, have gathered at the entrance to the base since the outbreak began and last week police were called to the base to clear parents from the vicinity, claiming that they were violating the lockdown regulations.
Though commanders have spoken to parents and claim that the situation inside is “under control,” the concerned mother said that it’s an “impossible situation” that the military is not handling properly.
“We are not getting any answers; it is very upsetting from a control and health perspective. They [the army] are supposed to be protecting these kids, we just sent them to the army and they are treating it like ‘let’s let 160 cadets just fester together,’” she said. “Parents just want to take their kids home and properly quarantine them. We will take the risk.”
The senior officer explained that there were meetings held on the dilemma of whether or not to let the cadets self-quarantine at home or remain on base. And despite the “understandable pressure” by parents, the decision that was taken, he said, was one that was safest for all involved.
“Trust me, it’s the easiest thing for me to say ‘ok they can quarantine at home,’ but it’s not the right move. We will pay for it,” he said.
“The virus is already on base, after all these days where troops are sleeping together, showering together… if I allow these cadets to go home, then I’m allowing them to mix with the civilian population,” he continued, adding that allowing those who are sick but asymptomatic “to mix with the civilian population would be catastrophic.”
And while there are over 100 parents who want their children home, the senior officer claimed that “most parents are saying ‘don’t let them come home’ as they have no safe place to quarantine them. And what about lone soldiers? It’s complicated.”
The outbreak at Camp 80 is not the first large scale outbreak in the IDF whose confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise with some 1,425 cases as of Sunday morning. There have also been outbreaks at the Bahad 1 officer’s training base and one at the Kfir training base.
Explaining that it was like watching a car crash into a wall at full speed, the concerned mother said that the military was compromising the health of troops “in every way” and that the way the situation was being handled made no sense.
“They are endangering the lives of these kids,” she said, adding that “we have completely lost faith in the system.”