The Health Ministry denied claims by one of its consultants that Israel is considering quarantining visitors from the United States.
“It is not currently on the agenda,” a spokesperson for the ministry told The Jerusalem Post.
His statements came after a consultant with the ministry told Kan radio Tuesday that the country is considering putting all American citizens who travel to Israel under 14-day quarantine.
In the interview, Dr. Tal Brosh, head of the infectious disease unit at Assuta Ashdod and member of a Health Ministry committee that evaluates the coronavirus threat, said that such a quarantine is “under discussion, of course” among officials.
He also said: “I would recommend it, but let’s complete the discussions first.”
Brosh said that despite the United States being a large and very organized country, the coronavirus is spreading rapidly there, including several severe cases and even deaths.
So far, nine people have died from the novel coronavirus in Washington state and over 100 people across the country have been diagnosed with it. America announced this week that up to a million people could be tested for the virus by the end of the week.
“We know that there are places that have more people who are carrying the virus than they really know,” Brosh said. “This is not just in the United States, but [also in] other places.”
Brosh said that Israelis should feel secure because the country is doing more than most. However, he noted that shy of closing the borders there is no guarantee that Israel can stop the virus from entering the country.
He explained that while it might seem appropriate to test any traveler who enters Israel for coronavirus, this would be untenable and also largely unhelpful. He said that the quantity of people would be too many and that it is plausible that a person would enter the country showing no symptoms of the virus and testing negative, but would test positive the next day or week.Hours after the interview, a Jewish man from Westchester County, New York was confirmed as having the coronavirus. Multiple Jewish day schools were closed and the synagogue he attended was ordered to halt services for the "foreseeable future." One of the man's daughter attends SAR High School. Another of his sons studies at Yeshiva University.
In Israel, there are so far 15 people who have contracted the coronavirus. The Health Ministry has disseminated information about their whereabouts. There are currently more than 5,000 Israelis are under quarantine.