Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz has declared that the country is “on the verge of an outbreak we will not be able to control” that will change “all life in the State of Israel,” as the Israeli government is continuously introducing new measures to combat the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVD-19).
Israel has now expanded its entry restrictions to Germany, France, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland. Israelis returning from the listed countries will have to go into 14 days of home quarantine, while foreigners from these countries will be able to enter Israel only if they can prove that they have the necessary means to self-quarantine once inside Israel.
70,000 Israelis are currently quarantined with over 50,000 of those returning from trips to Europe.
International conferences have been banned in Israel, as well as all events amassing more than 5,000 people. Additionally, anyone entering the country from abroad is prohibited from joining events with more than 100 people in attendance, under new Ministry of Health rules.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday discussed with Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman on how to continue preparations.
Speaking after the discussions, Netanyahu told the press that while he spoke of a Coronavirus “crisis” “it must be understood that we are in the midst of a global pandemic,” adding that Corona could be “the most dangerous of such pandemics in the past 100 years.”
Israel, however, was fully prepared for the pandemic, on par with merely two or three Western states, the Prime Minister said. Netanyahu credited the policy of “over-preparation and not under-preparation,” adding that Israel had been willing to adopt “very harsh” measures not adopted by other states.
“I would like to make it clear that we are in complete control of the event especially due to the great caution we are using and the steps that will be detailed today, and also due to you, the citizens of Israel. All in all, the citizens of Israel are very disciplined and are following to our instructions,” the Prime Minister addressed the Israeli public, calling on Israelis to refrain from shaking hands and suggesting they adopt the “Indian practice” of saying ‘Namaste’ by holding their hands in front of them.
Netanyahu thanked the medical services in Israel for their “exceptional work” and vowed Israel’s policies would allow the country to master the Coronavirus crisis.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has released a new application, “CoronApp,” aimed at informing the public on how to protect themselves against the virus, explaining how to self-quarantine properly and sending users regular updates from the ministry.
The app’s release comes amid news that Israel’s ambulance service, the Magen David Adom (MDA), has recorded an increase of 700 percent on its emergency dispatch phone lines in one day, with Israelis requesting information on the virus.
The MDA called upon the public to use the emergency number only in acute emergencies, and refer to the Ministry of Health for information on Coronavirus.
Israel currently has 15 known Coronavirus cases. No new patients were reported over the past 24 hours. On Thursday, however, it emerged that a woman had tested positive for Coronavirus in the United States, a week after returning from Israel.
The Ministry of Health published the locations that the patient visited while in the country and asked the public who was on the flight with her or who may have encountered her in public to enter a self-imposed quarantine for 14 days.
Mass cultural and sports events, as well as events ahead of the Pruim celebrations next week, have all been canceled.