Netanyahu: Israel ‘will be prepared’ to deal with coronavirus

At noon Sunday, restrictions went into effect barring the entry into Israel of tourists who have been in China during the past two weeks, says Ynet.

By World Israel News Staff

Though acknowledging that “it will be impossible to completely prevent the entry” of the coronavirus into Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Saturday to “be prepared in advance to deal with the virus.”

Netanyahu’s comments were made in a statement ahead of a meeting on Sunday of various cabinet ministers, health officials, and representatives of other relevant bodies, though the Prime Minister’s Office stressed that discussions have already taken place.

At 12 noon Israel time on Sunday, new restrictions went into effect barring the entry into Israel of tourists who have been in China during the past two weeks.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri issued a ban on all foreign nationals who have recently been in China from entering Israel by air or by sea.

The death toll in China from the virus climbed to 304 and the number of cases surged to 14,380, according to the National Health Commission, as cited by The Associated Press.

The Philippines on Sunday reported the first death from a new virus outside of China, says AP.

In his statement, Netanyahu noted that “the virus is already in five continents and 25 countries.”

On Sunday morning, two final flights from China were permitted to land at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Staff members from the Chinese Embassy in Israel were allowed to disembark after Chinese officials pledged that those arriving would be kept in quarantine for two weeks, reports Ynet.

Dozens of Israelis were on those flights as well, says the news agency, facing the same condition in order to be allowed into the country.

“Based on the law, we are demanding a two-week quarantine,” Health Minister Yaakov Litzman told Ynet.

“In other countries, they’re not allowing people to go to their homes,” he added, but said that “we are not at that stage. We prefer that they be at home and not come in contact with anyone.”

The health minister insisted that “we will find a way to carry out enforcement,” reports Ynet.

The news agency also reported that some 35 Chinese citizens who arrived in Israel on a flight from Moscow were denied entry and sent back to Russia, adding that some Israelis aboard the flight from the Russian capital demanded to get off when they noticed the Chinese passengers wearing face masks.