Coronavirus: Israel to bring in 14-day quarantine for all arrivals

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A young couple wearing protective masks are greeted upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv on 4 March 2020Image source, AFP
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All arrivals in Israel will have to self-quarantine for the next two weeks

Everyone arriving in Israel will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says.

"All those coming to Israel from abroad will be placed in isolation," he said in a video address posted to Twitter.

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said the measure would be effective immediately for all Israelis returning to the country.

It will apply to foreign citizens from Thursday, he added.

The move means that foreign arrivals will have to prove that they have adequate accommodation to be quarantined during their stay in the country.

"After a day of complex discussions, we made a decision: everyone who comes to Israel from abroad will enter the 14-day isolation," Mr Netanyahu said in a statement.

"This is a tough decision, but it is essential to maintain public health - and public health precedes everything."

He added that the ruling would be valid for two weeks.

The measure means that about 268,000 Israelis who are currently abroad would need to quarantine themselves on their return, Israeli media report.

Israel, a country with a population of about nine million, has so far recorded 42 cases of Covid-19, but no deaths.

The country has already imposed restrictions on travellers arriving from several countries including Italy, the worst-hit European country.

In other developments:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the threat of a pandemic is "very real"
  • Canada has confirmed the first death related to the virus - an elderly male patient in a care home in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • In France, Culture Minister Franck Riester has become the first member of the government to be infected with the virus. His team said he had spent several days of the past week in parliament, where a number of other cases have been confirmed
  • In the US, the number of confirmed cases now exceeds 500
  • A cruise ship carrying thousands of people who were stranded for days due to a coronavirus outbreak is reported to have docked at the port of Oakland, near San Francisco
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Pope Francis on videolink address: "The Pope is caged in the library"

What is the situation elsewhere?

The number of infections worldwide is now more than 111,000, with about 3,890 deaths.

It Italy, the coronavirus death toll jumped on Monday by 97 to 463. Infections in the country also increased to 9,172, up from 7,375 on Sunday, as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the outbreak as the country's "darkest hour".

Iran also reported 43 new deaths related to the disease in the past 24 hours. At least 237 people have died and 7,161 have been infected across the country since mid-February, although the real figures are believed to be far higher.

China, which has recorded the highest number of fatalities, reported just 40 new cases of Covid-19, the lowest since 20 January.

Although this indicates that the spread there is slowing, senior officials warned against reducing vigilance.