35 forced into quarantine after infected man knowingly takes Jerusalem bus

Family alerts police who stop traffic on highway and arrest man who tested positive for coronavirus but took bus to Jerusalem, forcing 34 passengers and the driver into quarantine.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A man who reportedly knew he was infected by coronavirus was arrested in a dramatic mid-highway operation Sunday by police and medical crews, Ynet reported.

The resident of the ultra-Orthodox city of Beitar Ilit had returned recently from abroad and was staying with relatives in Haifa for the mandatory two-week home isolation. After being informed he tested positive for the infection, the man hopped on a bus after apparently deciding to head to his home, some 150 kilometers south of Haifa.

The relatives in Haifa notified police, who were able to track the man’s mobile phone and stopped the bus on the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. Medical crews removed the driver and all 34 passengers from the bus.

“Among the passengers was the patient, who was arrested for questioning on suspicion of maliciously spreading the disease,” police said, adding the bus driver was also fined 5,000 shekels ($1,400) for transporting passengers over the permitted amount. Buses are limited to only 25 passengers, one in every other seat to minimize the chance of infection.

Police uploaded a video to their Twitter account showing the incident that caused a massive traffic jam as the passengers were taken care of by officers wearing protective masks and the suspect led away by paramedics to a waiting ambulance.

Officials from his home town released a statement saying the man was known to welfare authorities in Beitar Illit, saying anybody who does not totally comply with health ministry guidelines “is simply endangering lives and should pay the price.”

Police told Channel 12 News it was the third or fourth incident they were aware of involving people who knew they were infected with coronavirus going out in public. Carriers of the virus who are convicted of knowingly endangering public health face a sentence of up to seven years in jail.