Coronavirus: Two flights evacuate Israelis from Italy

The Italian authorities granted special permission for the flights to land and for each passenger to go to the airport, since highways in Italy are closed.

The Israelis who were aboard the "Diamond Princess" cruise ship after disembarking (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Israelis who were aboard the "Diamond Princess" cruise ship after disembarking
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Flights from Rome and Milan headed to Tel Aviv on Monday evening, to evacuate Israelis who were still in what is currently the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe.
The Foreign Ministry and Israeli Embassy in Italy coordinated the two flights, operated by Israir, for over 250 Israelis.
The initiative came from Dr. Nirit Ofir of Haifa University who has been volunteering to help Israelis stranded in various countries around the world due to border closures and flight cancellations.
The Italian authorities granted special permission for the flights to land and for each passenger to go to the airport, since highways in Italy are closed.
Most of the Israelis on the flights are university students. Upon their arrival at the airport, each was questioned by the authorities and their temperatures were taken. They were also required to fill out a declaration of health and an agreement to go into quarantine in Israel.
Upon their arrival in Israel, they will be put in quarantine in a hotel, under the Health Ministry’s supervision.
Also Monday, the Foreign Ministry worked to help Israeli backpackers get out of Bolivia. Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Ephraim Modi made calls to try to arrange flights to remote locations in the South American state.
Spokesman of the Israeli Embassy in Spain Yoav Katz warned on his twitter account that there will no longer be connecting flights through Spain, so Israelis in Latin America should try to find other ways to return.
The Foreign Ministry and diplomats around the world have been working in recent days to bring home Israelis stuck in various countries, with hundreds returning on special flights from Ukraine, Croatia – where there was an earthquake over the weekend - Peru and other locations where there are no longer regular flights to Israel.
On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry called again for Israelis abroad to return to Israel and released a compilation video of ambassadors from around the world imploring Israelis to go home.
El Al, Arkia and Israir have agreed to plan flights to a variety of destinations in which there are large concentrations of Israelis, according to Foreign Ministry recommendations. They began to advertise schedules and prices for the flights.
Israeli embassies are responsible for coordinating with local authorities in the various countries to ensure that the flights will have permission to land and take off.
El Al added departures from Mumbai, Perth and São Paulo on Tuesday, and Delhi and San Jose (Costa Rica) on Wednesday to its schedule.


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