At least nine out of hundreds of people infected with coronavirus in South Korea over the past few days have visited Israel in the past two weeks, the Health Ministry confirmed on Saturday.
The South Koreans had recently returned from a week-long trip to Israel, which lasted from February 8 until 15, organized by their Catholic Church. The delegation included 39 South Korean pilgrims.
South Korea earlier reported an eight-fold jump in viral infections in four days to 433. There's concern that the death toll, currently at two, could grow. At least 17 of the infected are in critical condition, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said.
Although it remains unclear whether they contracted the disease before or after the trip, the Health Ministry said anyone who came in direct contact with the South Korean delegation, must self-quarantine for at least two weeks.
Among the sites visited by the delegation were: David Tower Hotel in Netanya; the town of Caesarea; the city of Nazareth, including St. Gabriel hotel; The David Dead Sea Resort; Masada National Park; The Leonardo Hotel in Be'er Sheva; The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron; the city of Jerusalem, including Grand Court Hotel.
On Friday, Israel confirmed the country's first case of COVID-19 after one of the 11 Israelis who returned from Japan has been diagnosed with the virus.
The Israelis were quarantined near Tokyo on a cruise line hit by coronavirus for two weeks. Japan's health officials said all 11 tested negative to the virus prior to disembarking but once the passengers landed in the country.
Associated Press contributed to this report