Israelis Urged Caution On Far East Travel Over Coronavirus

YERUSHALAYIM -
Airport personnel monitor a thermal scanner as passengers arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay, Philippines, Thursday. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Israelis are not particularly worried about the Wuhan coronavirus, but they should be concerned, according to Professor Eyal Leshem of Sheba Hospital. Speaking to Yisrael Hayom, Leshem said that “anybody planning a trip to Asia and the countries where the virus has broken out is taking a risk, if not a big one at this point. China is a huge country with over a billion people, and travel there, as well as to Japan, Thailand and South Korea, where the virus has reached, is also questionable. It’s not clear how extensive the reach of the virus has been as of yet.”

The coronavirus, related to the SARS virus, has infected hundreds of people in China’s Wuhan province, and has spread beyond to Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and now the United States, where the first case was announced Wednesday. Scientists are working on a vaccine, but the disease is apparently highly infectious, and scientists are concerned that the disease will spread further before a vaccine can be developed.

Tens of thousands of Israelis travel to the Far East each year for pleasure and business, and China is an important business destination for Israelis. A survey by the newspaper of travel groups and customers at a travel store in Tel Aviv indicated that there was little concern among travelers of the disease. One member of a group set to travel to China said that “the media is probably blowing this out of proportion, so far it’s just a few people who are affected. There area  billion Chinese and just 200 have gotten sick so far.”