Background: To mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), national guidelines, in accordance with international health authorities, mandated 14 days of quarantine for every close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 patient. Although health benefits are obvious, consequences are profound, especially for organizations required to maintain operational preparedness.
Objectives: To present the Israel Defense Force (IDF) experience with outbreaks regarding quarantined individuals. To weigh the consequences of quarantined individuals needed for workforce and operation.
Methods: All positive COVID-19 cases in the IDF, as measured by a positive rRT-PCR test result, between 29 February and 18 May 2020 were evaluated. Numbers of positive individuals, quarantined individuals, and confirmatory exams conducted were collected. We compared the events in four units with the largest outbreaks and assessed the impact of confirmed cases, tests conducted, and workforce loss due to quarantine.
Results: Of the 187 soldiers who tested positive for COVID-19, source of infection was traced to 140 soldiers (75%). Almost no medical treatment was delivered, and hospitalization was rare. We found a median of 15.2% (interquartile range 5.3–34) for decline in unit workforce due to quarantine measures. Maximum reduction reached 47% of the workforce in one unit.
Conclusions: Despite a relatively small number of confirmed cases, units underwent a substantial change in mode of operation due to the toll of quarantined individuals. In certain populations and organizations, perhaps a more liberal application of isolation and contact tracing is suitable due to the heavy economic burden and consequences in term of operational readiness.