“After a day of complex discussions, we have made a decision: Whoever arrives in Israel from abroad will enter quarantine for 14 days,” said Netanyahu in a video statement. “This is a difficult decision but it is essential to maintaining public health, which takes precedence over everything. The decision will be in effect for two weeks. At the same time, we will make decisions to safeguard the Israeli economy.”
Netanyahu’s message came less than an hour after the Israeli Ministry of Health announced that the country confirmed eight new cases of coronavirus, bringing the country’s total number of COVID-19 patients up to 50.
This isolation requirement applies to both foreign visitors and Israelis alike. Non-citizens will be barred from entering the country until they can prove that they have a place to stay for their quarantine period. If they can’t, they will be given a few days to organize their flights to leave the country. (Related: Israel bars entry to 5 European countries amid coronavirus outbreak, cancels joint operations with US military.)
The Ministry of Health is asking tourists to abide by five guidelines during their stay in Israel:
According to Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, director-general of the Ministry of Health, the quarantine does not apply retroactively. However, all tourists who have entered the country before the mandated quarantine period are asked to proceed with caution and to call Magen David Adom immediately if they show any coronavirus symptoms so that they can get tested.
Siman-Tov has stated that Israel’s actions were done to ensure that the outbreak doesn’t spread so rapidly that the country’s health services won’t be able to cope. He has said that without these “harsh enough steps,” Israel could end up like Italy, which is experiencing severe economic challenges and a very intense amount of strain on its health system due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
“We know that the economic impact is dramatic, but health comes above all else,” said Siman-Tov. “If we see that the situation changes, then we will change our policies… We can succeed if the public cooperates.”
In China, workers in Beijing are returning to their jobs, and the number of newly reported coronavirus infections in the country has decreased. The country is optimistic about how the tide is now turning, especially since President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, the epicenter of the worldwide outbreak, for the first time since the virus spread in December 2019. Xi also serves as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.
Meanwhile, other parts of the world are still struggling to fight off the coronavirus, with many countries such as Israel rolling out strong security measures to try and halt COVID-19’s spread.
On Monday, Italy announced new sweeping restrictions. This includes putting the entire country on lockdown, banning all but the most important travel and suspending public gatherings. The announcement comes two days after imposing similar restrictions on the northern regions of Italy. For now, the only travel authorities are allowing will be for proven work reasons, for health-related concerns and “other cases of necessity.”
In Ireland, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has canceled all parades and public gatherings planned for St. Patrick’s Day. In Northern Ireland, the city council of Belfast has passed a similar measure, while other parades and similar festivities have been put under review.
Spain has shut down all schools in and around Madrid, the country’s capital, for the next two weeks because, according to the country’s minister for health, the rising number of coronavirus cases around Madrid “implies a change for the worse.”
Similarly, strict actions are also happening in many other parts of the world. If similar tactics, such as the ones employed in Singapore, are used as a template, the world may just be able to bring itself back from the brink.