Photo Credit: Kobi Richter/TPS

Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority has deported over 1,500 South Koreans over concerns of the Coronavirus spreading in Israel.

A total of 1,511 tourists were reportedly returned to their country, including 422 people in the past 24 hours.

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Following the news of a group of South Korean tourists diagnosed with coronavirus shortly after returning home from Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the decision had been reached “to quickly locate all persons suspected of having been in contact with those carrying the virus and voluntarily isolate them or return them to their countries,” as well as deciding to “gradually reduce flights from places with the Coronavirus.”

Israel currently has the harshest entry limits internationally over Coronavirus fears and has faced diplomatic pressure over its decision, with the Thai government requesting Israel “reconsider” its ban on Thai residents entering the country and the South Korean government issuing a formal complaint to Israel after passengers on a South Korean plane were not allowed to disembark, with the plane instead refueling and returning to South Korea.

Netanyahu said that the government is holding daily assessments to deal with the threat of coronavirus.

“We are constantly evaluating and adjusting our policy, and adapting it to developing circumstances,” the Prime Minister said, adding that “over-preparation is preferable to under-preparation” and vowing to “do whatever is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus in Israel.”

He also announced that Australia and Italy would be added to the list of countries with entry restrictions, joining Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and China. Foreigners who have traveled to any of the listed countries within the past 14 days will be prohibited from entering Israel, whereas Israeli residents will be forced to undergo a 14-day home quarantine.

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