Second Coronavirus Case Diagnosed in Israel

Over 200 Israelis in quarantine over coronavirus ■ Travel warning issued for South Korea, Japan ■ Nine South Koreans tested positive on their return from a trip to Israel, West Bank

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Coronavirus in Israel: Paramedics getting ready for a Korean Air flight from Seoul at Ben Gurion Airport, February 22, 2020.
Coronavirus in Israel: Paramedics getting ready for a Korean Air flight from Seoul at Ben Gurion Airport, February 22, 2020. Credit: Magen David Adom
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

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■ Second case of coronavirus diagnosed in Israel as additional passenger returned from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined off the coast of Japan, tests positive for the virus

■ 200 Israel residents in quarantine after coming in contact with Korean tourist group that included people diagnosed with coronavirus

■ Health Ministry issues travel warning to South Korea and Japan

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■ A Korean plane that landed in Israel was only allowed to disembark Israeli citizens before being turned back

Over 200 residents of Israel who may have been in contact with South Korean nationals who tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 after returning from the Holy Land are currently in quarantine.

Nine South Korean nationals who visited Israel and the West Bank in February have tested positive for the virus, Israel's Health Ministry said on Saturday. Israeli health authorities put in home isolation for two weeks anyone who was in close contact with the tourist group.

Follow our live updates below:

9:12 P.M.: Second person in Israel tests positive for virus

Israel's Health Ministry says another Israeli citizen who was aboard the Diamond Princess was diagnosed with coronavirus. The patient had been quarantined in the Sheba Medical Center and contracted the virus while on the cruise ship, according to the ministry.  

8:25 P.M.: Health Ministry orders ban on foreign participants in Tel Aviv marathon

The Health Ministry has told the city of Tel Aviv not to allow foreign participants to run in the city's marathon, scheduled for Friday. There are some 3,000 people with foreign citizenship among the 40,000 who have signed up, according to a statement from the city. 

7 P.M.: Gush Etzion regional council: 'Har Gilo school not suitable to house quarantined S. Koreans'

The military academy in the West Bank settlement of Har Gilo is not suitable to house South Koreans visiting Israel who are being placed in quarantine over concern that they might be carrying the coronavirus, the Gush Etzion regional council, the local government in the area, said in a statement. Residents of Har Gilo have filed a court action seeking to bar the South Koreans from being quarantined in the settlement.  

6:45 P.M.: Bar-Ilan Univ.: Physics student in quarantine in dorm

A physics student at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan is in isolation at a university dorm after she visited a site in Israel that was visited by a group of South Korean Christian pilgrims, some of whom tested positive for the coronavirus following their return to South Korea. The student had not come in contact with the group and is not experiencing symptoms of the virus, the university added.

6:35 P.M.: Education Ministry: 225 students and 19 teaching staff placed in quarantine

A total of 225 students and 19 members of teaching staff from schools around Israel are currently in isolation as a precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Israeli Education Ministry said. They include 105 junior high school students from Haifa, 90 from a secondary school in Afula and 30 from a Be'er Sheva high school.

The students and school staff had come in contact with a group of South Korean Christian pilgrims who visited Israel, some of whom tested positive for the virus following their return to South Korea.

6:15 P.M.: Israel Airports Authority: Last of passengers bumped from Korean Air flight leaving Israel Sunday

The Israel Airports Authority said it has been working to provide alternative arrangements for all of the 180 passengers who had been due to fly Korean Air flight late Saturday from Ben-Gurion airport to the South Korean capital, Seoul. They were unable to board because the roughly 200 non-Israeli passengers on the incoming flight from Seoul were not allowed to enter Israel due to concern that they may be carrying the coronavirus.

The last 47 of the 180 passengers who had been due to fly to South Korea on the Korean Air plane would be leaving Israel on Sunday, with connections via foreign airports, the airports authority said.

4:47 P.M. Settlement residents petition against hosting suspected virus carriers

Residents of the West Bank settlement of Har Gilo have petitioned the country's top court against the decision to hold Korean tourists suspected of being infected with coronavirus to hold them in a facility in the settlement. 

4:40 P.M. High school trips to Poland suspended until at least March 4

The Education Ministry has announced that youth trips to Poland won't be departing until March 4 at the earliest because of fears over the virus spreading. 

3:56 P.M. Health Ministry issues warning for Israelis wishing to travel to South Korea and Japan over coronavirus fears

3:30 P.M. Public security minister: Coronavirus could affect March 2 election

Public Security Gilad Erdan says the virus could affect the March 2 election, allowing elements to want to interfere – "to disseminate fabricated articles, fake news ... to affect turnout in certain areas."

2:44 P.M. Netanyahu instructs gov't to open national situation room for coronavirus policy

As of Monday, relevant ministry officials will convene daily for a situation assessment led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at special meeting to discuss developments on the matter.

The forum also decided on swiftly locating people suspected of coming in contact with carriers of the virus and putting them in voluntary quarantine, as well as gradually minimizing flights from locations with reported cases of the virus.

Netanyahu also said Italy and Australia will be added to the list of countries from which incoming flights will be scrutinized more thoroughly upon landing in Israel.

2:05 P.M. Health minister: Consider canceling Tel Aviv marathon

Health Minister Ya'akov Litzman is demanding that authorities consider canceling Tel Aviv's marathon, planned for Friday, over the virus outbreak. 

1:11 P.M. Health ministry: Anyone who visited Japan, South Korea in last two weeks will not be let in

Israel's health ministry confirmed that foreign nationals who visited one of the two countries in the last 14 days would be barred from entering the country. The ban was already in effect for South Koreans, the ministry said, and would come into effect on Monday at 8 a.m. for Japan.

Israeli authorities also bolstered the apparatus to deal with the influx of tourists potentially infected at Ben Gurion international airport, Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov said.

11:40 A.M. Another group of South Korean tourists carrying COVID-19 could have visited Israel

Israel's health ministry is investigating new reports that another group of tourists from South Korea might have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Every month, around 5,000 South Koreans visit Israel. The welfare of Korean nationals still in Israel was a major point raised during the call held between Seoul and the Israeli diplomatic representation. South Korea raised concerns regarding the tight controls Israeli authorities are enacting on Koreans here, including strict regulations regarding accommodation.

11:34 A.M. Interior Minister Arye Dery signs order banning entry to visitors from Japan, South Korea

Travelers who have visited Japan or South Korea in the last fourteen days will now be refused entry into Israel, adding the two Asian countries to a list that already includes China, Macau, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

The ban is not on citizens of those countries, but rather anyone except Israeli nationals, who have been in one of those countries in the two weeks prior to their arrival in Israel.

10:35 A.M. Health Ministry directs Israelis returning from Italy, Taiwan and Australia to get checked for virus

Directive came after spike in diagnosed cases in Italy, which currently stand at 79. Taiwan so far has 26 cases, and in Australia 22.

9:10 A.M. Israel Judo Association cancels training camp in Japan

The Israeli national team was expected to attend a training camp in Japan this week, in preparation for the Summer Olympics to be held in the country this year. 

It was originally decided for the camp to go ahead, in consultation with Israel's health ministry, but following the institution of the 2-week quarantine policy, the association decided to cancel altogether.

9:01 A.M. South Korean foreign ministry summons Israeli envoy

Rasha Atamny, deputy chief of the Israeli mission in Seoul, was summoned to the South Korean foreign ministry on Sunday morning, in response to the new restrictions enacted by Israel.

According to a report in public news agency Yonhap, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul has conveyed to the Israeli government that "excessive and unreasonable measures should not be taken" against South Korean citizens. 

Saturday, 7:46 P.M. Korean plane turned back from Ben Gurion airport

Only Israeli nationals were allowed to disembark a Korean Air passenger plane that landed at Ben Gurion Airport, a joint announcement by the Ministry of Health, Magen David Adom and the airport authority said.

There were about 200 foreign nationals and 12 Israelis aboard. The plane was allowed to refuel, before taking off and returning to South Korea.

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