ISA to use 'digital means' to track Covid-19 carriers' relatives

A pilot program will check into relatives of carriers who are suspected of lying about their contacts prior to diagnosis.

Talya Eitan ,

Digital tracking
Digital tracking
צילום: ISTOCK

The ISA (Shabak) is beginning a pilot program to track relatives (nuclear family members) of coronavirus carriers who either refuse to cooperate with epidemiological investigations or are suspected of falsely claiming not to have come into contact with anyone during the period under concern.

A report in Yisrael Hayom notes that according to the estimation of the Home Front Command, around 30% of confirmed carriers either don’t cooperate with Health Ministry investigations or falsely claim not to have been in contact with anyone during the period leading up to their diagnosis. Starting this Tuesday, the Home Front Command, in coordination with the ISA, will be conducting additional testing to track relatives of newly diagnosed carriers, in order to see how many of them were actually in contact with those who have contracted the virus.

The initial program will follow just 500 people out of those assessed to have given questionable data regarding their contacts. If suspicion arises that they did actually come into contact with close relatives, the ISA will be involved. The ISA will not actually use contact tracing (using cell phone data) but will use alternative means, unspecified. If people’s contact with confirmed coronavirus carriers is uncovered as a result of the investigations, they will receive a text message ordering them into quarantine and will have their samples taken for virus testing.

The new program was announced by Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen while on an inspection tour of the government’s coronavirus control center, managed by the Home Front Command. Cohen was shown some of the technological means being used to cut off chains of transmission and met with the deputy head of the Home Front Command, Nissan Davidi, as well as with Health Ministry representatives and officials from the ISA. During the tour, Davidi recommended enhancing enforcement of the government’s coronavirus regulations.

At the conclusion of his inspection, Minister Cohen noted that: “We have 2,800 researchers working here using ISA tracing tools and other digital means, and together we are ensuring that the transmission of the coronavirus continues to drop.”