Netanyahu calls emergency coronavirus meeting, says better to overprepare

Netanyahu called the special meeting to discuss ongoing strategy in combating the contagion. 

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a special assessment on the issue of the Coronavirus at the Health Ministry emergency situation room on Sunday.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, government ministers, ministry director generals, the head of the National Security Council (NSC) and other senior officials were in attendance.

“Today, I will appoint a ministerial team to convene on a daily basis in order to deal with this major challenge,” Netanyahu said.

The team, chaired by the head of the National Security Council, will coordinate on the situation and formulate policy on all developing issues pursuant to the coronavirus, the Prime Minister’s Office reported.

Netanyahu said at the start of the discussion: “We are constantly evaluating and adjusting our policy, and adapting it to developing circumstances. First, we are becoming stricter vis-à-vis entry into Israel from additional countries.”

The prime minister said Australia and Italy were added to the list of countries restricted entry to Israel. He said more countries may be added if necessary.

“I have said that over-preparation is preferable to under-preparation. Until now, Israel has been stricter than any other country and we will continue to do whatever is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus in Israel.”

He also said the public must “show maximum responsibility. Everyone must follow the instructions given by the Health Ministry.”

The prime minister referred to the home isolation imposed on those who came into contact with a group of South Korean pilgrims, some of whom it turned out were infected with the coronavirus.

“It was decided to quickly locate all persons suspected of having been in contact with those carrying the virus and voluntarily isolate them or return them to their countries. It was decided to gradually reduce flights from places with the Coronavirus,” he said.

Israel on Saturday night prevented a South Korean plane from disembarking its passengers, instead refueling it and sending it back to South Korea.

The South Korean government issued a formal complaint to Israel on the matter.

Netanyahu also expressed his fear that false reports may impact the elections.

“I would even like to involve the Israel Police, as well as the ISA [Israel Security Agency], on this matter. There could be all kinds of elements, including foreign elements, which could interfere in the elections this way. We have an interest in stopping this,” he said.