In an effort to contain an outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, the Health Ministry on Sunday ordered anyone returning to Israel from the prominent East Asian countries to quarantine themselves for a period of at least 14 days.
The order effectively expands the list of countries in the already existing directive, which so far included only mainland China, where the COVID-19 virus originated.
The latest order states anyone returning from Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau are required to stay in a solitary confinement in either a place of residence or in a medical facility.
"The directive was issued because of the spread of the virus in countries beyond China, and to prevent its spread in Israel," said the Health Ministry in a statement.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said the decision also stems from the fact that the current number of those infected are just “the tip of the iceberg.”
"We have already seen the increase in the number of people, who returned from those countries, experiencing symptoms of the virus," said Litzman. “Now that the number of cases in those countries have risen, we have decided to ask all people returning to stay in isolation.”
Litzman added there is also an indication of the spread of the virus inside those countries, as opposed to the assumption that all the infected arrived from mainland China.
According to the directive, the quarantined individual must avoid public spaces, including educational institutions, workplaces, public transport, shopping centers and hospitals.
The travelers are required to quarantine themselves even if they do not experience any symptoms.
If, however, those who recently returned from East Asia start experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath, they must urgently contact their health care provider or be taken to the emergency room.
Before arriving at the emergency room, the patient must cover the mouth and nose with a surgical mask or other available tools, and avoid traveling on public transport.
Furthermore, those under quarantine must remain in a well-ventilated room separate from the rest of the household for the entire 14 days. If contact with the quarantined is necessary for any reason, surgical masks and gloves must be worn.