Coronavirus: Israel orders 14-day self-quarantine for anyone entering country

PM Binyamin Netanyahu says measures will initially be in effect for two weeks

A woman wearing a mask looks on at a terminal at Ben Gurion International airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel February 27th. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters/File

A woman wearing a mask looks on at a terminal at Ben Gurion International airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel February 27th. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters/File

 

Israel will require anyone arriving from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

With 42 confirmed cases of the virus, Israel has already taken some tough counter-measures, forcing visitors from many countries in Asia and Europe into home isolation. The virus has hit travel and trade, with tourism in particular expected to suffer.

“Anyone who arrives in Israel from abroad will enter a 14-day isolation,” Mr Netanyahu said in a video statement. He said the new measures would be in effect for two weeks initially.

“This is a difficult decision. But it is essential for safeguarding public health, and public health comes first.”

Government officials said the order would come into force immediately for Israelis returning to the country. From Thursday, any non-Israelis seeking to enter the country will have to prove they have the means to self-quarantine, the officials said.

Palestine

Israeli media said the latest measure would mean quarantine for some 300,000 citizens in a country of about 9 million.

Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank have also been hit by the virus, reporting 25 confirmed cases. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has turned foreigners away at checkpoints and ordered schools and national parks closed.

The PA said on Monday it was barring Palestinians from travelling to neighbouring Jordan through the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge crossing, with immediate effect. Foreigners would still be allowed to leave and all entries allowed, the PA said.

Israeli officials had no immediate comment on the Allenby measures.

Mr Netanyahu invited the media on Monday to a video conference he held with leaders of Italy, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Cyprus to discuss co-operation on the crisis. Among his proposals was to regularly disinfect select airports in Europe to help preserve international deliveries of supplies.

Israeli public broadcaster Kan said the quarantine restrictions were even affecting the country’s intelligence service. Kan said, without citing sources, that returning Mossad operatives had been ordered to stay at home for two weeks. – Reuters