Israeli Health Ministry Recommends Warning Against Travel to Italy

Life inside a red zone: An ambulance is seen driving down a road in San Fiorano, one of the towns on lockdown due to a coronavirus outbreak, Saturday. (Marzio Toniolo/via Reuters)

As coronavirus has surfaced in Italy, the Health Ministry on Monday recommended issuing a travel warning for that country.

The Foreign Ministry was expected to release the warning following a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“We’re very disturbed by what’s happening in Italy, and in Iran,” Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said at a press conference. “We’ll consider in the coming days if those returning from Italy will be in [home] quarantine for 14 days.

“The virus is breaking through international borders, that’s the fear,” Bar Siman-Tov said. “We assume there is a high likelihood of coronavirus happening in Israel.”

coronavirus italy
An empty street in San Fiorano, Saturday. (Marzio Toniolo/via Reuters)

He acknowledged that a quarantine order for travelers returning from Italy might be ineffective, because anyone who wished to avoid the quarantine could “take a train to a neighboring country, and fly to Israel from there.”

A fifth virus fatality was reported on Monday in Italy. More than 150 Italians have been infected and over 50,000 people, in about a dozen northern Italian towns, have been told to stay home. Police set up checkpoints to enforce the blockade.

Starting Monday, Israel has imposed an entry ban on all foreign travelers who have been to South Korea and Japan in the past 14 days, in addition to the already existing ban on visitors from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand and Singapore. Israel is the only country to have taken such drastic steps so far to contain the virus.