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March 9, 2020 1:28 pm

Israeli Military Preparing for Major Coronavirus Outbreak

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A paramedic wears a protective suit as he prepares in front a ‘sterile’ polling station set up by Israel’s election committee so Israelis in isolation over coronavirus concerns could vote in the national election, in Ashkelon, March 2, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

The IDF is undertaking extensive preparations for a possible outbreak of the coronavirus within its ranks and Israeli society at large, the news site N12 reported.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and other top military officials held a meeting on Monday to discuss the situation. Kochavi said the goal was to maintain operational readiness and minimize the number of quarantined soldiers.

It was decided at the meeting to quarantine all soldiers returning from abroad for two weeks. Approximately 2,100 soldiers have already been quarantined.

In addition, the IDF has decided to continue the current quarantine of Bethlehem, in which several cases of the virus have been confirmed, as well as the West Bank in general until after the Purim holiday.

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Following the holiday, an assessment will be made on whether to continue the quarantine.

The IDF also decided to adjust training schedules, and may also change the schedule for upcoming ceremonies, such as Israeli Memorial Day.

Civilians working on IDF bases will only be allowed to enter them after being tested for the virus, and reserve forces may be called up if necessary.

On Sunday, the IDF conducted an exercise simulating a major outbreak, which concluded that there would be no appreciable harm to operational readiness.

Plans are also underway for the IDF to step in should civilian facilities prove unable to cope with a major outbreak. The army would provide military facilities for housing and treating patients, assist the police and help deliver supplies.

As a last resort, the military would shut down large areas of the country, as the Italian government recently did in its northern region.

The IDF Medical Corps is currently involved in international education and training efforts in order to prepare for an outbreak.

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