The main challenge facing Israel’s newly appointed National Coronavirus Project Coordinator Nachman Ash is not the pandemic itself, but politics, a Health Ministry official said Tuesday.

Ash will have to finish the process of leading Israel out of its current shutdown, and according to some pessimistic projections, might have to announce new restrictions when the morbidity rate jumps this winter.

This coming week, the IDF Home Front Command’s Alon COVID-19 management center is expected to be fully online, and Ash will need to follow its activities to ensure that plans to cut off outbreaks quickly and effectively are carried out, and that the number of tests processed daily is close to 100,000.

The new corona chief will also have to work with the Arab and haredi desks that his predecessor, Ronni Gamzu, set up. He will have to spearhead localized restrictions in communities that are coded “red” under Gamzu’s “stoplight” plan and see that the plan itself is fully implemented.

Another interesting challenge that awaits him is the creation of a plan for home hospitalization for COVID-19 patients.

Ash is considered an easygoing person, someone who doesn’t get involved in clashes or see them as a way of getting results. According to people who know him, he tends to listen to what different people have to say and then decide not according to what is popular but what is needed for a given situation. In addition to that, the former IDF surgeon general has experience working under fire—literally.

These qualities could help him face attacks from ministers who sit on the so-called corona Cabinet and when political decisions threaten the professional plans he lays out.

On Tuesday evening, Ash discussed his new appointment. In a series of tweets, he thanked everyone who wished him well.

“What a crazy day. A minute after I learned that they had agreed on me for the job and the announcement went out, a tsunami of phone calls and messages started,” he wrote. “The challenge is great, and there is much work to do.”

Ash has apologized to the media for declining interviews, saying that he wants to study the situation in depth and arrive at insights before making any declaration.

“I know I have to succeed for all our sakes, so it’s important that each and every one of you join the efforts. Masks, social distancing, hygiene are the basic principles that should guide us all,” he wrote.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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