On Wednesday, March 4, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that travelers who visited France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, or Austria over the past 14 days must quarantine themselves at home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). A previous restriction banned all entry for non-Israeli travelers who have been in mainland China, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, or Japan 14 days prior to their arrival. Israeli nationals who have visited the aforementioned countries may enter Israel but will be subject to a 14-day home quarantine.
On March 4, the Israeli Health Minister announced a prohibition on gatherings of more than 5000 people. The Health Minister has additionally asked that individuals avoid any unnecessary travel abroad.
To date, there have been 15 confirmed cases of the virus in Israel. Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.