Health Ministry Issues Unprecedented Warning Against Non-Essential Trips Abroad

israel coronavirus
A traveler with a mask at the Ben Gurion International Airport. (Avshalom Shoshani/Flash90)

All Israelis have been urged by the Health Ministry to reconsider non-essential trips abroad as coronavirus outbreaks multiply.

“The Ministry of Health’s assessment is that there is a high chance that the virus has spread to other regions of Europe as well as many other parts of the world, and that is why we are urging the public to [re]consider the need for travel abroad in general aside from cases of returning from specific countries.”

“If you don’t genuinely have to fly — don’t do so,” the ministry said in an unprecedented travel warning.

Israel thereby became the first country to issue such a sweeping advisory since the outbreak in China last December.

In the latest of an expanding list of travel restrictions, the Ministry also said on Wednesday that anyone entering Israel from Italy from Sunday must self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In addition, Israelis were advised to avoid international conferences or any gatherings, including of a religious nature, which bring together people from numerous countries lest they expose themselves to the life-threatening illness.

El Al canceled a flight to Milan scheduled for Thursday morning, as well.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, Korean Air has suspended its Tel Aviv-Seoul route until March 31.

The Foreign Ministry, which has been a source of criticism, however anonymous, in recent weeks, of the Health Ministry’s aggressive policies, on the grounds that they could provoke retaliatory measure from some of the affected countries, decline comment on Tuesday.

The IDF did not immediately respond to a question on whether the measures would affect any planned exercises with international partners, The Times of Israel said.

Meanwhile, coronavirus fears caused a minor panic on a flight from Milan to Israel, when an Israeli passenger took sick. The crew was informed that she wasn’t feeling well, and other passengers moved away from her.

The passenger was examined by a medical team when she arrived at Ben Gurion Airport.

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