On Thursday, March 19, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Immediately following the declaration, the government issued orders prohibiting Israelis from leaving their homes unless "absolutely necessary." Social interactions and visitation of beaches, pools, parks, libraries, and museums is prohibited. Essential services, including supermarkets, pharmacies, and most medical services, will remain open. Those who can work from home are encouraged to do so, but employees will be allowed to travel to work if necessary. Gatherings of more than ten people are also prohibited. These measures will be in place for seven days; individuals who violate any of the restrictions will be subject to fines.
On Thursday, March 12, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered all schools and universities to close. Nonessential businesses such as malls, hotels, and restaurants have been closed since Sunday, March 15.
To date, there have been more than 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Israel. Further international spread of the virus 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 March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic.
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.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.