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Israel said planning for coronavirus with isolation units, tourist site closures

The Health Ministry officials believe it is only a matter of time before the coronavirus reaches Israel, and have drawn up a plan with the aim of treating patients and preventing the spread of the infection, Channel 12 news reported Wednesday.

Although there have not yet been any cases reported in Israel, patients have been diagnosed with the virus in Egypt and Iran.

In the initial phase of a possible Israeli outbreak, dedicated units will be set up within established hospitals in an attempt to isolate carriers of the disease. They are to be staffed by experts in the field of disease control.

According to the report, an isolation unit will immediately be set up at the Shmu’el Harofe Hospital in Beer Yaakov, in addition to one at a geriatric unit in Rishon Lezion.

However, if the number of infections increases to an amount not stated by the report, a hospital in Jerusalem and one in Tel Aviv could be commandeered exclusively for the treatment of patients with coronavirus.

In addition, the Health Ministry could impose restrictions on large gatherings and the closure of hotels and tourist sites will be considered, according to the report.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has instructed the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer to prepare to take the Israelis evacuated from a cruise ship off the coast of Japan into quarantine upon their arrival in the country. They will be kept in a separate unit and monitored by medical staff assigned solely for that purpose, the ministry added.

Israel now has some of the strictest entry restrictions in place after the Health Ministry on Sunday said Israelis returning from four destinations in East Asia will now be required to self-quarantine for two weeks amid concerns over the spread of the virus. Travelers to Thailand, Singapore and the semi-autonomous Chinese cities of Hong Kong and Macau must remain in isolation, the ministry said. Previously, only travelers coming from China were subject to such a self-quarantine.

Header: Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri