The Health Ministry announced Thursday that has has begun enforcing a quarantine order issued for those returning from several countries in Asia, introduced in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus.
According to the ministry, some 50 people are believed to have violated instructions to remain quarantined for a period of 14 days upon return to Israel.
Those found to have violated the order may face up to seven years in prison, the ministry said, referring to a section of the criminal code relating to the spread of disease and another section that refers to the violation of a legal order.
The order to remain in a 14-day quarantine was recently extended from just arrivals from China to include those returning from Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, and Singapore as of February 16, and instructs employers to enforce the order regarding their employees.
"We consider those quarantined as partners in an effort to avoid contamination of the public," the ministry said, expressing the hope that those who had to be quarantined would show concern for their families, neighbors and people more susceptible to illness, such as the elderly.
The 11 Israeli passengers on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan who have not tested positive for the disease all disembarked from the ship Thursday and were already on their way back to Israel.
They were set to land in the country early Friday morning.
Upon arrival, they will be transported to the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv where they will remain in a special ward until their condition is confirmed.