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Israel may expand quarantine to all countries

5:40 P.M. Netanyahu to make decision on further quarantine and entry restrictions later Monday

Following a meeting with Health Ministry officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would make a decision later Monday on whether to expand quarantines for returning Israeli citizens and banned entry for foreigners later Monday.

Speaking with Italian PM, 6 other heads of government, Netanyahu urges international cooperation, suggests ‘safe air hubs’ at selected airports in Europe be constantly disinfected (Romania included).

Netanyahu made three suggestions. For one, he proposed Europe join the Israeli-US effort to improve ways to test people for the deadly virus.

On Sunday, Netanyahu had spoken with US Vice President Mike Pence, and the two men two agreed to hold followup talks between the Israeli and American teams dealing with the crisis.

“The talks will be held in order to advance technological and scientific cooperation on the issue of the coronavirus and to discuss joint ways of dealing with the challenges posed by the virus,” The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“When that happens we can separate more effectively and more efficiently healthy people from sick people. This is good for health and it’s very good for our economy, because we’re going to run into serious problems of mass quarantines, and you can’t run economies that way. So we’re pooling our research people with their research people.”

The prime minister urged the European leaders — Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades — to contribute to the effort if they think they have the scientific and technological abilities to do so.

“It has to be a worldwide effort. It’s not who gets there first, but how do we all get there first,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister also suggested creating “safe air hubs” in Europe to mitigate the damage caused by disrupted chains due to constrictions on air travel.

“We can designate airports for us, for all of us. And we say, this is a clean airport. We apply consistent efforts to keep it clean. We scrub it, we disinfect it, all the time — around the clock. And we also test the people who work there all the time,” Netanyahu suggested.

“This can also be a meeting ground for leaders, for technologists, where they could actually meet and not just be reliant on the internet, as we’re doing right now,” he added.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat, Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov and Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem also participated in the videoconference.

After Netanyahu’s remarks, the European leaders addressed the virtual gathering, but that part of the conference was closed to the press.

On Sunday evening, during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu said he would also conduct a conference call “with the leaders of countries in the Middle East.”

On Monday, his aides refused to provide additional information about that conference call.

Header: PM Netanyahu speaking to European leaders during a videoconference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, March 9, 2020 (Koby Gideon/GPO)

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