Police and the Health Ministry attempt to curb coronavirus outbreak

A total of 76 Israelis have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

Israel Police vehicle (Illustrative) (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Israel Police vehicle (Illustrative)
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Police and the Health Ministry said Tuesday that they have set up dedicated task forces composed of police officers and inspectors to prevent the spread of the virus. The teams will ensure that all people in isolation comply with the ministry’s guidelines, a statement explained.
Police will have access to data about the comings and goings of civilians in and out of the country through the Interior Ministry to help them track travelers and check up on them.
“We appeal to the public and seek to heed the instructions of the Health Ministry on this issue, as ignoring them disrupts the national effort to combat the virus outbreak and its spread in Israel,” the Police said. “We urge the public to act with restraint and responsibility.”
The Police emphasized that so far, “the vast majority of those in isolation obey orders and exercise civil responsibility.”
The Health Ministry further expanded its restrictions on the public as well on Thursday, forbidding community events of more than 2,000 people. Previously, the ministry allowed up to 5,000 people to gather.
“This number is expected to be updated as the situation develops,” the ministry said in a statement.
More than 119,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide and 4,298 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections outside China have been reported by 117 countries.
The Israel Airports Authority confirmed that one of its employees, a manager in its fire detection department, has tested positive for the virus. The IAA said he had not been at the company's facilities during the past 10 days, but that other employees who came into prior contact with him had been sent home for self-quarantine.
A total of 76 Israelis have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, including a second case of "unknown origin" and increasing fears of widespread local transmission.
Some 63 individuals had been hospitalized, with one in a severe condition, and three were being treated at home. A further seven individuals were en route to being hospitalized, while three had recovered and been discharged.
Confirming the second case of "unknown origin," the Health Ministry said the male patient - referred to as patient No. 71 - was in his 60s and from central Israel. He is currently isolated in hospital, and an epidemiological investigation is currently underway to assess his movements in recent days.
The only previous case of "unknown origin" was confirmed on Sunday - a Magen David Adom employee in his 40s, referred to as patient No. 29.
Since the announcement on Monday that all individuals entering Israel from abroad will be required to spend 14 days in home isolation from their date of arrival – both citizens and non-citizens alike – thousands of foreign nationals have left the country.
More than 10,800 foreign nationals left Israel on Tuesday of their own accord, according to figures published by the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) on Wednesday, bringing the total of departures during the last two weeks to approximately 197,000.
A total of 8,945 Israelis entered the country on Tuesday, bringing the total to over 235,000 citizens during the same period. More than 400 foreign nationals have been refused entry into the country since Friday at Israel's air and land points of entry, PIBA said.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman and Reuters contributed to this story.