Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday morning said the plan to use hotels as dedicated quarantine areas for coronavirus patients is meant to not only isolate the virus from the general public but also protect the patients in case their conditions worsens.
The Defense Ministry was to roll out its plan to use near-empty hotel facilities, ravaged by the crash in tourism, as recovery centers for patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
"These hotels provide protection for patients and for subsequent observation,” said Bennett at a news conference in Dan Panorama Tel Aviv, one of the hotels that has turned into a recovery center.
“If the patient's condition worsens, we can treat him immediately, it also protects the rest of the public [from the virus],” he said. “So, we have a goal of getting as many virus carriers as we can fit in here. These hotels will be an island of tranquility and home to the coronavirus patients in mild condition.”
Two hotels are set to begin receiving patients sometime on Tuesday with others likely to follow. The facilities are to be overseen by medical officials with patients quarantined in rooms, and food and other amenities delivered to the rooms by protected hotel staff.
In addition, Bennett issued orders to allow into Israel only those Palestinian workers and merchants whose work is deemed essential in health, agriculture, nursing and construction. Workers allowed in will stay in Israel for between one and two months.
Also, following an overnight cabinet approval, the Shin Bet security service said it will begin deploying its phone-tracking technology to combat the spread of the virus. The Shin Bet insisted the use will be limited only to help "save lives" and warn those who have been exposed.
Amid secrecy concerns, it said the technology won't be used to enforce quarantines and the data will only be stored temporarily and available to just a select group of agents. The emergency ordinance will be effective for 30 days.