Health Ministry issues travel warning for Italy due to coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak in Italy is the most severe in Europe, with at least 220 confirmed cases and seven deaths, most of them heavily concentrated in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

Coronavirus Updates
The Health Ministry, after discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, decided to issue a travel warning for Italy due to the coronavirus outbreak, Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said at a press conference, Walla reported.
The Health Ministry director-general added that they are considering placing any Israelis returning from Italy under a 14-day quarantine.
This was followed by a travel warning from the Foreign Ministry, reminding Israelis that travel to Northern Italy – where the outbreak is most severe – should only be done if absolutely necessary.
The news followed earlier comments made by Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman in an interview with Army Radio, where he said that
"I suggest Israelis not travel to Italy.
"We are examining the possibility of placing Italy and Australia on the list of countries from which travelers must be quarantined upon their return to Israel.
We will not be afraid to enforce the quarantine."
The coronavirus outbreak in Italy is
the most severe in Europe, with at least 220 confirmed cases and seven deaths, most of them heavily concentrated in the country's northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto – both of which have been sealed off by the Italian government – and most notably in the city of Milan.
In addition to Italy, both Iran and South Korea have experienced huge surges of coronavirus cases over the last few days, which prompted Israel to ban South Korean tourists from entering the country.
While Israel has not received any visitors from Iran, other Gulf states have, which has resulting in the coronavirus spreading to Iraq, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, and has resulted in several countries closing their borders and banning travel to and from the Islamic Republic.
Bar Siman Tov added that "We assume that there will be a high probability of the coronavirus coming to Israel."

Bar Siman Tov said the Health Ministry "
assumes that there will be a high probability of the coronavirus coming to Israel," adding that cases of infection will likely slowly show up, as several weeks of infection come prior to symptoms showing.
Several Israelis are already in quarantine, having either been aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan or having been among the many who were with the Korean tourist group that had later been diagnosed with the virus upon their return to South Korea.
After numerous Israelis kept in isolation complained of feeling sick, Magen David Adom paramedics were sent to collect saliva samples to test for infection.
Approximately 30 samples have been taken, the results of which will be verified after several hours. So far, there have been zero cases confirmed in Israel, barring the two who returned from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
However, if a case seems likely, MDA paramedics are prepared to evacuate them using an insulated stretcher to prevent spreading the disease.
Also Monday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon instructed Finance Ministry director-general Shai Babad to monitor any developments in the coronavirus outbreak, Walla reported.
"The Finance Ministry is prepared to maintain the resilience of the Israeli economy," Kahlon said.
The economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus has caused
the Bank of Israel to keep its benchmark interest rate at 0.25%
The bank stated that the outbreak of the virus
casts uncertainty over a range of areas, including future economic activity both in Israel and abroad, the impact on inflation and on financial markets.
“If the crisis persists and flows over into other countries, and particularly if strict preventive measures will be required in Israel, it is expected to have a... significant impact, the scope of which is difficult to assess at this stage,” the bank added.
The economic impact has resulted in damage to the tourism industry, and could potentially cause a shortage of matzah and other kosher-for-Passover food due to more Israelis canceling their travel plans and staying home.
Eytan Halon, Alon Einhorn and Reuters contributed to this report.


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