Coronavirus: Israel to quarantine everyone entering country

Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv.
Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv. Photo credit: Reuters

Israel will require anyone arriving from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus.

With 42 confirmed cases of the virus, Israel has already taken some tough counter-measures, forcing visitors from many countries in Asia and Europe into home isolation.

The virus has hit travel and trade, with tourism in particular expected to suffer.

"Anyone who arrives in Israel from abroad will enter a 14-day isolation," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement.

He said the new measures would be in effect for two weeks initially.

"This is a difficult decision. But it is essential for safeguarding public health, and public health comes first."

Government officials said the order would come into force immediately for Israelis returning to the country.

From Thursday (local time), any non-Israelis seeking to enter the country will have to prove they have the means to self-quarantine, the officials said.

Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank have also been hit by the virus, reporting 25 confirmed cases. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has turned foreigners away at checkpoints and ordered schools and national parks closed.

Netanyahu invited the media on Monday to a video conference he held with leaders of Italy, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Cyprus to discuss cooperation on the crisis.

Among his proposals was to regularly disinfect select airports in Europe to help preserve international deliveries of supplies.