Following a situation assessment on Wednesday, Israel’s Health Ministry advised Israelis to avoid any unnecessary international travel due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The directive was made based on the expectation that the virus was likely to spread swiftly throughout Europe.
Along with the general recommendation, the ministry released rules for travelers: visitors to Italy, where coronavirus infections are spreading, were asked to remain quarantined for two weeks following their return to Israel. Italians visiting Israel are asked to leave by Sunday.
Siegal Sadetzki, the Health Ministry’s director of public health services, said, “Israel is in a different situation than Europe. Europe is a large continent with free transit between countries.”
Israel, she noted, had “a window of opportunity” to close its borders and prevent the spread of the virus.
“We are in a very critical window of opportunity in trying to stave off the disease and reduce the extent of the spread,” she stated. “There will be no way to take the steps we are taking when an outbreak happens.”
Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov said the ministry was particularly “disturbed” by the spread of the virus in Iran, saying, “What is happening there is the tip of the iceberg.”
“Thousands, if not tens of thousands” of people were likely to die of the disease in Iran, he predicted.
He pointed out that although there were no direct connections between Israel and Iran, Iranian citizens could travel to the areas under control of the Palestinian Authority, from where the disease could spread to Israel.
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Author: Benjamin Kerstein
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