Photo Credit: MDA screengrab via Twitter
MDA medics using strict quarantine protocols while transporting a patient

By midnight Sunday evening, there were two cases of suspected coronavirus facing medical professionals in Israel, each in a separate part of the country.

Israeli health officials reported early Sunday evening that a Chinese citizen was admitted to a hospital under careful quarantine due to concerns about an infection with the coronavirus.


The patient is being cared for under strict quarantine protocols, with testing to determine whether the illness is actually the 2019-nCoV virus, or simply a plain old garden variety virus.

A Hebrew-language journalist reported the patient is a 60-year-old woman who was admitted to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital at the Sourasky Medical Center, a 1,000-bed facility and the third largest medical complex in the country.

About an hour later, a male Chinese agricultural worker became the second person to be hospitalized with the same challenge. The man, who works near the southern Israeli city of Sderot, is also being treated under strict quarantine. He, too, is undergoing tests at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon to determine whether he in fact has contracted the 2019-nCoV virus.

Several others have been tested in recent days and found to be “coronavirus-free” and simply ill with a routine virus.

Israel Issues Warning: Don’t Travel to Wuhan, China

Israel’s Health Ministry issued a travel warning this weekend, telling citizens not to travel to the city of Wuhan and its surrounding areas as nearly 2,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed since an outbreak began last month in the city. Israelis are urged to avoid all travel to the region unless it is “absolutely critical.”

The coronavirus is a new respiratory virus that was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan, in Hebei Province last year. The current symptoms of this virus have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the symptoms “may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS viruses.”

It is believed to spread mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to the spread of the flu and other respiratory pathogens.

Thus far, there have been four confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States. More than 50 people have died of the illness in China, and at least 2,000 more have been struck with the virus.

State Dept. Evacuates Staff from Wuhan
The US State Department told Reuters in an emailed statement on Sunday that it will evacuate its personnel from the US Consulate in Wuhan, and bring them back to the United States.

A limited number of seats on the “single flight” to San Francisco on January 28 will be made available to private US citizens, the State Department said.

Those interested in securing a seat on that flight were asked to contact the US Embassy in Beijing with their personal information.

“This capacity is extremely limited and if there is insufficient ability to transport everyone who expresses interest, priority will be given to individuals at greater risk from coronavirus,” the statement said. China is providing assistance to the US government to facilitate the evacuation, according to a statement issued Saturday by the country’s foreign ministry.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.