Israel mulls putting all US travelers under quarantine to block coronavirus

Israel may take the extreme measure of extending its quarantine rules to American travelers.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel may force all U.S. citizens traveling to Israel to endure a 14-day quarantine, The Jerusalem Post reports.

According to a consultant for Israel’s Health Ministry, the idea is under consideration.

Dr. Tal Brosh, head of the infectious disease unit at a hospital in Ashdod, told Kan public radio on Tuesday that a quarantine of U.S. citizens is “in discussion, of course.”

“I would recommend it,” he said, “but let’s complete the discussions first.”

However, The Jerusalem Post reports that a spokesperson for the Health Ministry denied the report, saying that quarantining Americans “is not currently on the agenda.”

Brosh says that while the U.S. is an advanced country, coronavirus is spreading there rapidly.

The U.S. has been so far spared a major outbreak of the new contagion. The disease has killed six people with just over 100 cases in 15 states as of Tuesday morning, CBS News reports.

The Trump administration has set up a special task force to cope with the disease, led by Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump said at a press briefing on Wednesday, “Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared.”

“We know that there are places that have more people who are carrying the virus than they really know,” Brosh said.

Brosh says Israel is doing more than most, the Post reports.

It’s generally agreed that Israel has imposed some of the strictest standards. It forced a South Korean plane to turn around after a group of pilgrims were found to have the disease. Its national airline, El Al, has stopped flights to Italy, a country that has seen a large breakout of the disease.

Australia warned President Reuven Rivlin, who was visiting at the time Israel issued travel restrictions, that it would view with a jaundiced eye any attempt by Israel to block its country’s citizens.

That example might give Israeli health officials pause before attempting to quarantine the citizens of its greatest ally.

Israel has issued tough guidelines for its own citizens returning from countries affected by the virus as well as those who’ve come in contact with them. So far 6,000 people are in self-imposed home quarantine for a period of two weeks in Israel.

The country set up special voting booths to allow quarantined individuals to vote. About 70% of those eligible took advantage of the booths, a voting rate higher than the national average in Monday’s election, which itself was the highest in 20 years.