Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Medical staff at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. Jan. 27, 2020

Dozens of Israelis have violated a self-quarantine order for travelers returning from East Asia, according to a report published Thursday night by the Hebrew-language Ynet news site.

Around 50 Israelis were reported to have violated the quarantine order issued by Israel’s Health Ministry according to the report.

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Israeli Health Ministry Extends Travel Warning to Asian Nations

The order was issued more than a week ago along with one requiring a 14-day quarantine on all returning Israelis arriving from Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Singapore and Macau due to concerns they might be infected with COVID-19, the Wuhan coronavirus.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar also faces mandatory quarantine as he returns this weekend from a visit abroad to Singapore, Hebrew-language Israeli media reported.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Amar to be Forced to Self-Quarantine Upon Return from Singapore

The requirement was a precaution only; the rabbi was visiting Singapore to supervise the opening of the new Jewish cemetery there.

The Health Ministry has warned that the maximum penalty for knowingly violating the quarantine order would be a seven-year prison term. Those who violate the order through negligence could be sent to prison for up to three years, the ministry said.

Earlier this month, Israel’s Health Ministry recommended Israeli citizens not travel to Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan. El Al Airlines, meanwhile, has temporarily suspended flights to Hong Kong and Singapore; Singapore’s Cathay Airlines has temporarily suspended flights to and from Ben Gurion International Airlines as well.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has killed a total of 2128 people, according to a Thursday morning briefing in Geneva by the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, including seven victims outside China. A total of 74,675 cases of the illness had been diagnosed in China alone by Thursday.

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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 Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.