Israel’s Health Minister has coronavirus, top officials to isolate

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Israel’s Health Minister has coronavirus, top officials to isolate
In this Monday, March 2, 2020 photo, Israel's Health Minister Yaakov Litzman delivers a statement as he visits a makeshift tent for quarantined coronavirus voters in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
In this Monday, March 2, 2020 photo, Israel’s Health Minister Yaakov Litzman delivers a statement as he visits a makeshift tent for quarantined coronavirus voters in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

(AP) — The new coronavirus is forcing more top Israeli officials into isolation after the country’s health minister, who has had frequent contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tested positive, the Health Ministry said Thursday.

The Middle East has over 81,000 confirmed cases of the virus, most of those in Iran, and over 3,600 deaths.

Iran’s Health Ministry said Thursday that the new coronavirus killed another 124 people, pushing the country’s death toll to 3,160.

In a rare acknowledgement of the severity of the outbreak by a senior Iranian official, President Hassan Rouhani said the new coronavirus may remain through the end of the Iranian year, which just began late last month, state TV reported Thursday.

“The corona issue is not an issue that we can say it will be ended (on a specific) day. It is possible corona will be with us for the coming months. It is possible it will be with us by the end of the year. We always have to follow healthy protocols provided by the health ministry,” Rouhani said.

In Lebanon, the Philippines ambassador, Bernardita Catalla, died of complications from the coronavirus Thursday, the Philippines said.

Lebanon has recorded 494 cases, including 16 deaths.

Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife, who also contracted the virus, are in isolation, feel well and are being treated, the ministry statement said.

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