As the novel coronavirus continues to rattle the world, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are grappling with containing the outbreak.
■ All Israelis returning from abroad are ordered into a 14-day quarantine. Starting Thursday, non-Israelis will have to prove they are able to self-quarantine
■ 58 Israelis have so far tested positive for coronavirus, known as COVID-19; thousands have been placed in isolation; four have recovered
■ Palestinian Authority bars all foreign tourists for two weeks, closes Bethlehem churches and mosques with 25 confirmed cases of virus and one in Tul Karm
5:35 P.M. Israel to provide 20 tons of disinfectants to Palestinian factories in West Bank
The coordinator for government activities in the territories has arranged for the transfer of 20 tons of disinfectants, including chlorine and hydrogen peroxide, from Israeli factories to Palestinian factories in the West Bank. The disinfectants are used for cleaning surfaces in open areas, as well as in indoor public areas, including mosques and churches. (Hagar Shezaf)
2:58 P.M. Tel Aviv airport limits operations
In wake of the decision by Israel’s Health Ministry Monday to require all travelers from abroad to self-quarantine two weeks, the Ben-Gurion International Airport will reduce its activity to only 30 percent of its normal capacity. All non-permanent workers were furloughed and may not return, given the uncertainty over the coronavirus crisis.
70 percent of them were furloughed Sunday. Some of the 150 security positions and the airport will also be eliminated.
The Israel Airports Authority is also weighing a shutdown of Ramon International Airport at night. The airport normally handles 45 international flights weekly.
Israeli airline El Al announced Monday it is considering a shutdown, while Israir and Arkia announced they are halting all flights abroad. Additionally, low-cost carrier Wizz Air announced it is halting flights to and from Israel on March 12.
The virus outbreak has also forced El Al to postpone the opening of new routes to Chicago until June 28, to Dusseldorf until July 3 and to Tokyo until August 29. “The company is letting customers holding flight tickets starting from March 31 to postpone or freeze their departure flight until February 28, 2021 without any additional handling charges (subject to changes in ticket prices should there be any),” the Israeli carrier announced. (Hadar Kane)
2:52 P.M. Toronto synagogue suspends activities after lay leader tests positive
A synagogue in Toronto, Canada, is suspending some activities this week after a lay leader who attended the AIPAC conference in Washington last week has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. According to reports in Canadian media, Beth Sholom Synagogue will be temporarily closed as the building undergoes sanitation.
The synagogue said in statement released on Monday that the man tested positive after experiencing flu-like symptoms and his condition is improving. He has not been to the synagogue since he was diagnosed, and is currently in home quarantine. The synagogue said it was suspending operations as precaution.
This is the fifth known case of an AIPAC conference attendee who tested positive for the coronavirus, after two cases in New York, one in Los Angeles and one in Ohio. (Amir Tibon)
2:07 P.M. Three more Israelis test positive for virus; total cases at 58
A 66-year-old man from Jerusalem and a 30-year-old man from central Israel have been diagnosed with coronavirus after being in contact with a carrier of the virus.
Meanwhile, a man fom the Tel Aviv area tested positive after returning from a trip to Austria. (Ido Efrati)
1:21 P.M Four more Israelis tests positive to virus, bringing total to 55
Four new carriers of the novel coronavirus have been detected in Israel.
A resident of Ma’aleh Adumim has been identified as the 52nd carrier of the novel coronavirus. They were in contact with a carrier of the virus in Israel, the Health Ministry said.
The other three newly identified Israeli carriers of the virus are aged in their 30s to 40s and are residents of central Israel, according to the ministry. They traveled to Europe and have been in quarantine since they returned to Israel. (Ido Efrati)
1:16 P.M. Israel’s 51st virus carrier detected
A 51st Israeli has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Health Ministry announced. The resident of Israel’s south returned from Azerbaijan last week. (Ido Efrati)
1:03 P.M. Virus kills 54 more in Iran; death toll climbs to 291
Iran says the new coronavirus has killed 54 more people, raising the death toll to 291 amid 8,042 cases in the Islamic Republic, according to Kianoush Jahanpour, a Health Ministry spokesman, Tuesday. (The Associated Press)
12:11 P.M. Lebanon records first death
Lebanon recorded its first death from coronavirus on Tuesday, local broadcasters said, adding that the patient had been in quarantine since returning from Egypt.
The government has halted flights for non-residents from epicentres of the virus, shut schools and warned against public gatherings as the total number of cases rose to 41 this week. (Reuters)
11:21 A.M. European airline suspends Israel flights
Wizz Air has suspended all flights to Israel due to the measures Israel is taking to fight coronavirus, the carrier said on Tuesday.
Flights to and from Tel Aviv and Eilat will be suspended from March 12 until March 23, the company said. (Reuters)
10:53 A.M. Gulf countries, Egypt report more cases of virus
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt have recorded more cases of the novel coronavirus. Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry reported five new cases, bringing the total number of infections in the kingdom to 20.
Kuwait also announced four new confirmed cases over the past 24 hours, raising the total number in the Gulf state to 69. In Qatar, a total of 18 cases have been detected so far. Egypt has raised the total number of infections to 59, after four new cases were recorded. (DPA)
10:18 A.M. Jerusalem Purim events cancelled over concerns about virus
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon announced that Purim events will be cancelled in the city, following discussions with the police and Health Ministry about coronavirus. (Nir Hasson)
10:09 A.M. Opinion: Israel’s coronavirus response has been too extreme
Since my previous opinion piece on the new coronavirus epidemic, there have been significant developments in the global picture, the policies implemented by Israel and the economic and societal implications of these policies, which require a fresh approach to address what the future may bring.
It’s important to note that Israel’s current policy is more extreme than that of most developed nations, including those that have been harder hit by the disease. (Zvi Bentwich)
9:30 A.M. Israel’s CoronaApp exposed users’ medical history to hackers
A major security flaw that allowed hackers to extract confidential medical information of some 75,000 Israeli users was discovered in the Health Ministry’s CoronApp, intended to provide information about coronavirus and allow users to consult with experts and report their quarantine.
According to the Health Ministry, there was no hostile breach of the app’s database and the bug has since been fixed.
7:48 A.M. Cyprus doctor tests positive for virus; largest hospital suspends most services
Cyprus’ largest medical facility suspended most services on Tuesday, authorities said, after a medical doctor heading the heart surgical ward tested positive for coronavirus.
The 64-year-old doctor was one of the first two individuals to test positive on the Mediterranean island. He had recently returned from Britain and had contact with patients. (Reuters)
11:05 P.M. Movement restricted across Italy to curb virus spread
Movement across Italy will be sharply restricted in a dramatic new clampdown aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday.
Conte told reporters that measures introduced just two days ago in much of the north were no longer sufficient and that they would have to be extended to the whole country from Tuesday. “Stay at home,” Conte said. (Reuters)
11:03 P.M. Fourth AIPAC attendee tests positive
A fourth person, a man from Ohio in his 50s, who attended the AIPAC policy conference in Washington last week has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement released Monday. The three previous cases were diagnosed in New York and Los Angeles.
“This disease will for a period significantly disturb and disrupt our lives,” DeWine said. Ohio has declared an emergency situation to deal with the outbreak. (Amir Tibon)
11:01 P.M. Those visiting Rachel Tomb’s are not required to enter quarantine
Israel’s Health Ministry exempted visitors arriving at Rachel Tomb’s on the outskirts of Bethlehem since the passage to the compound is secured and doesn’t require contact with local residents. (Ido Efrati)
10:32 P.M. Israel’s Foreign Ministry cancels Independence Day events abroad
The Foreign Ministry has ordered Israeli diplomats to cancel plans for events for the country’s 72nd Independence Day, which falls on April 29.
Events for Holocaust Rememberance Day, on April 21, and the Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers, on April 28, will be held on a smaller scale than initially planned. (Noa Landau)
10:25 P.M. 50th Israeli tests positive
An Israeli from northern Israel who returned from Spain on Tuesday tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Health Ministry said. The patient is said to be in good condition, and has remained in quarantine since Wednesday.
According to the Health Ministry, four patients have made full recovery. (Ido Efrati)
10:23 P.M. Palestinians barred from travelling to Jordan
The Palestinian Authority 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. (Reuters)
10:10 P.M. Five more Israelis test positive for virus
Five additional Israelis have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 49. One of them returned from Spain and is in moderate condition, and the remaining four were in close contact with other confirmed patients. (Ido Efrati)
9:55 P.M. Two Israelis test positive for coronavirus
Two more Israelis tested positive for coronavirus, one had come back from France and the other Spain. (Ido Efrati)
8:30 P.M. Quarantine for Israelis effective as of Monday, foreigners as of Thursday
According to a directive from Interior Minister Arye Dery, the quarantine order for Israelis will go into effect as of 8 P.M. Monday. The order for foreigners who can prove they have adequate accommodations to be quarantined during their stay in the country will go into effect as of 8 P.M. Thursday.
According to details provided by the Health Ministry, as of Monday at 8 P.M. all Israeli citizens returning to Israel from anywhere abroad must enter a 14-day home quarantine immediately upon their return.
Starting Thursday, foreign nationals arriving to an international border crossing will be permitted entry into Israel, provided that they can demonstrate their ability to enter home quarantine in Israel.
Tourists currently in Israel will be given time arrange their exit from Israel in the coming days. Until their departure, they must adhere to follow the following rules:
- If they develop any symptoms, they must immediately call Magen David Adom (Israel’s national medical emergency services)
- Take care to maintain good hygiene practises
- Avoid, as much as possible, large crowds
- Note that it will not be possible to exit to neighbouring countries and then return to Israel
- Document the course of their travels in Israel
Anyone who has returned to Israel from abroad in the previous 14 days, and who is not already under home quarantine as stipulated by the Health Ministry is not obligated to enter home quarantine. This applies so long as they don’t develop symptoms of the disease, in which case home quarantine with immediate effect is ordered.
All those currently under home quarantine stipulated by previous instructions by the Health Ministry are to continue their quarantine to the completion of 14 days following their return to Israel. (Noa Landau)