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Israeli military sets up coronavirus task force

JERUSALEM – The Israeli military said Wednesday it was establishing a coronavirus task force aimed at cutting the chain of infection in the country.

In a statement, the military said the new task force would begin operating next week and connect all the different bodies under one umbrella. The unit, headed by a brigadier general, will operate a sampling center, a quarantine center, recovery hotels, an evaluation complex and an epidemiological investigations center.

The move looks to give the country’s largest organization overall responsibility for contact tracing at a time when the government has come under fire for its handling of the pandemic. The ministry of defense has long advocated utilizing the military’s vast infrastructure and resources to combat the spread of the virus but has been rebuffed till now because of inter-government squabbling.

Israel received praise for its early handling of the coronavirus crisis and imposing tight movement restrictions. But since reopening the economy in May new cases have spiked to record highs, with upwards of 2,000 infections a day. As part of his set of recommendations to stem the tide, the country’s new coronavirus czar said more responsibility should be handed over to the military.

The military said one of its main goals is to significantly shorten the waiting time for samples and epidemiological investigations.

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