Netanyahu: ‘Our goal is to delay arrival of coronavirus’

Israel took steps it hopes will hold off the arrival of the coronavirus.

By World Israel New Staff

With reports saying that the number of those infected by the dreaded coronavirus in China is higher than the 14,000 reported, and the first reported death outside China in the Philippines, Israel is taking steps to delay the disease’s arrive to its shores.

In a discussion on Sunday between relevant governmental bodies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Our goal is to delay the arrival of the virus to Israel – I say ‘delay,’ because it is inevitable that it will arrive.”

“We are not taking any unnecessary chances,” he said earlier on Saturday. “The virus is already found on five continents and in over 25 countries… we will be prepared in advance to deal with the virus after its first entry to Israel.”

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement: “The State of Israel has already taken preventive measures and was among the first countries that decided to restrict flights and land entry for those coming from China.”

Israel’s health ministry has also issued an order that anyone returning from China must spend two weeks in isolation. Those falling under the order are allowed to remain in their homes. However, those who break the rule can lead to a punishment of as much as three years in prison.

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On Thursday, Israel’s Health Minister Yaakov Litzman stopped all further flights from China into the country.

China has considered the world reaction overwrought. It accused the U.S. of spreading panic when it declared a public emergency. China’s Ambassador to Israel Dai Yuming held a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday in which he criticized the world’s behavior.

In comments for which the embassy later issued an apology, he said the banning of Chinese citizens reminded him
of “the old days, the old stories that happened in World War Two, the Holocaust, the darkest days in human history”.

“Millions of Jewish were killed, and many, many Jewish were refused when they tried to seek assistance from other countries. Only very, very few countries opened their door, and among them is China,” Yuming said.

After criticism about the apparent comparison to refugees fleeing the Holocaust, Israel’s Chinese embassy said “there was no intention whatsoever to compare the dark days of the Holocaust with the current situation and the efforts taken by the Israeli government to protect its citizens.

“We would like to apologize if someone understood our message the wrong way,” the embassy said.