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Israeli military's chief of staff in quarantine following coronavirus exposure

Prime Minister Netanyahu (L) with Aviv Kochavi (R) in November 2019 [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 July, 2020

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Aviv Kochavi is in isolation after being exposed to coronavirus, a day after defence minister Benny Gantz annnounced he was isolating following possible exposure.
The Israeli military says its chief of staff, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, has gone into quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus.

In a statement Thursday, the army says Kochavi was in the presence of an officer last week who later tested positive for the virus. Israel has been grappling in recent weeks with a surge in coronavirus cases.

The announcement means that both Israel’s military chief and its defence minister, Benny Gantz, are in isolation. Gantz, who is also Israel’s “alternate prime minister,” announced Wednesday that he was going into quarantine after possible exposure to the virus.

The army says Kochavi feels healthy but will be tested. He plans to maintain his regular schedule “whenever possible” while in isolation. Kochavi previously went into protective quarantine in March after attending a meeting with someone who was infected.

Israel is reimposing a series of restrictions following the recent resurgence of virus cases.

The government decided Monday it was shuttering all events spaces, bars, clubs, gyms and public swimming pools. It is limiting occupancy at restaurants and places of worship. The decision still must be approved by the Knesset.

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The move comes as Israel, which appeared to have largely contained its initial outbreak, is seeing a swift rise in cases. Experts have warned that Israel is "losing control," saying it moved too quickly to reopen its economy after a lockdown and did not properly prepare for a second wave of infections.

Israel now counts more than 30,000 cases since the start of the outbreak, with nearly 18,000 recovering. More than 330 people have died.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was widely praised for Israel's successful management of the early stages of the crisis is now facing growing criticism.

Netanyahu moved quickly to close the country's borders and impose other strict measures to contain the spread of the virus, and Israel was among the first in the world to reopen its economy in May. He boasted on live TV how other countries were looking to Israel as a model of how to handle the pandemic.

But the exit strategy appears to have been badly bungled, and facing a drastic surge in confirmed Covid-19 cases the country has begun shuttering again. Experts warn the government waited too long to respond to the latest wave and now is on a path to calamity.

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