Health Ministry Tells Companies: Prepare for Mass Worker Outages

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman and National Security Adviser and NSC Director Meir Ben-Shabbat hold a press conference about the coronavirus COVID-19, at the Health Ministry in Yerushalayim, on Wednesday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry has in recent days revealed details of another individual or group from abroad that visited Israel and subsequently were diagnosed with coronavirus, and by now the number of Israelis in self-imposed quarantine has reached many thousands. That is going to begin affecting the Israeli economy, the Health Ministry said, and companies need to prepare for the possibility that large number of employees will not be able to make it to the office.

Among the steps the Ministry recommends for companies is canceling all travel abroad by employees, for business or leisure, whenever possible. If possible, conferences can be held electronically instead of in person. In addition, companies need to actively monitor the hygiene of employees and enforce strict rules regarding hygiene.

The Ministry also issue new instructions to hospitals regarding treatment of individuals who have contracted coronavirus. Currently, the only hospital examining individuals suspected of having the disease is Sheba Hospital in Ramat Gan, but in the coming days, the Ministry expects many more suspected cases to emerge – and it’s likely that hospitals all over the country will be required to examine patients. The Ministry issued guidance to hospitals to ensure that coronavirus patients are kept away from other patients and visitors.

A 17th Israeli has been diagnosed with coronavirus, the Ministry said Thursday night. The individual is a man in his 70s who recently returned from a trip to Italy. He entered quarantine immediately upon returning to Israel, and a cold he thought he had was diagnosed as coronavirus.

More problematic was a group of Greek tourists who visited Israel between February 21-27. The group of Christian tourists visited various sites in the Galilee and the Judean Desert, but also spent time at the Dead Sea, Eilat and Yerushalayim. After they returned home, members of the group were found to have contracted coronavirus. The Health Ministry is working to track down individuals who were in contact with the group, and instructing them to self-quarantine for two weeks.