Health officials on Wednesday released new guidelines to contain the spread of coronavirus, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman announcing that Israelis arriving from France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Spain must enter a two-week period of quarantine.
There are currently 15 people who in Israel who are confirmed as infected by the coronavirus while thousands more are quarantined in their homes.
Speaking to local media at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem, Netanyahu unveiled new measures decided upon as part of efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus saying that the world was in the midst of a pandemic.
“This is the truth and it must be said,” the prime minister stated.
“Israel is one of the only countries in the West that is in a relatively good situation,” the prime minister said. “We’ve taken severe measures in order to prevent the spread [of the virus].”
Netanyahu advised against shaking hands and suggested the Indian greeting "Namaste" as an option.
Litzman announced the health ministry has now imposed a ban on public events and assemblies of more than 5,000 participants as part of the efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
“We will not allow international conferences in Israel,” Litzman added.
“This is an international crisis. There are countries that are working to take various steps, and there are countries that haven’t yet internalized the severity of the situation,” the minister said.
Israelis arriving from France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Spain have been directed to enter a two-week period of quarantine.
Non-Israelis will be allowed in from those destinations if they have can be quarantined for the first two weeks of their stay.
The directive follows previous similar instructions for Israelis returning from China, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and Italy.
Earlier, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau told observant Jews they should refrain from the custom of kissing the mezuzah on the door frame when entering a building or a room.
"During these days, when we are witness to the spread of a serious disease, there is no doubt that one should not kiss the mezuzah or touch it at all," said Lau.
First published: 17:39, 03.04.20