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People with direct exposure to COVID-19 are receiving a text message on their phone telling them they must home-quarantine.

By United with Israel Staff

Israel’s Ministry of Health on Wednesday began notifying people that they had come in close contact with someone infected with the coronavirus, informing them that they must self-quarantine. Thus far, at least 400 people have received a message.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with other officials and the Health Ministry said this is a necessary measure to curb the spread of the disease.

“In the message, they were informed of the date that they were near the sick person and the fact that they must enter [14 day] home-quarantine immediately,” the Health Ministry said.

The infected person is not specifically identified and no identifying details are provided. Only the location where the exposure occurred is noted.

Israeli public broadcaster Kan shared one of the messages: “Dear Marina, According to epidemiological research, you were close to a coronavirus carrier on March 6, 2020. You must go into isolation until March 20, 2020 in order to protect your relatives and the public.”

Until the use of the app, health authorities relied primarily on interviews with patients to track where they had been the past weeks before their diagnosis. However, as the number of infected people rises, preventing the spread of coronavirus through this process becomes inefficient and near impossible.

The new system allows the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) to use phone data gathered from cell towers to monitor coronavirus carriers and see with whom they interacted before they were sick.

As of Thursday morning, the health ministry confirmed 529 cases of coronavirus in Israel.