Israel's newly appointed coronavirus task force chief, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, has stated his intention to reassign responsibility for testing and tracking potential coronavirus sufferers from the overwhelmed Health Ministry to the Defense Ministry.
Epidemiological testing and tracking under the Health Ministry has been on the verge of collapse because of a shortage on dedicated staff and the continued rise in cases, despite efforts to bolster the 27 nurses assigned to the project until recently with additional personnel.
Senior health officials, who are opposed to handing the entire project over the Defense Ministry, have suggested assigning the military with the task of only locating people who may have come into contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients.
Following a meeting Saturday with Gamzu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the security forces would be prepared to take on any assignment to assist in the efforts to disrupt chains of contagion and lower the number of coronavirus cases in Israel.
Sources said Sunday that 2,000 recently released IDF soldiers would be hired to carry out the task.
A senior official in the Health Ministry said it is vital that the testing and tracking apparatus remain the responsibility of the ministry, while also bolstered by staff from other bodies.
Gamzu and Gantz discussed an epidemiological tracing mechanism that would whose staff would include people who have recently left military service where they had gained experience in compiling data and familiarity with investigative methodologies.
Gamzu's aim is to put in place a dedicated apparatus within days, which will answer directly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Health Ministry would have regulatory authority and the Defense Ministry would be in charge of the operational aspects through the IDF Home Front Command in coordination with local municipalities.
The proposal would be presented to the cabinet for approval.