Two More Israelis Catch Coronavirus at Toy Store, Bringing Total to 15

A third coronavirus patient has been in isolation in Israel since returning from Italy in late February

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A toy store in Or Yehuda, where several cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, February 28, 2020.
A toy store in Or Yehuda, where several cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, February 28, 2020.Credit: David Bachar

Three more Israelis have tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the Health Ministry said Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 15.

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All patients are said to be experiencing only mild symptoms and are under quarantine.

Two of them have apparently caught the virus at a toy store in the central city of Or Yehuda, whose owner and one of its workers had been diagnosed with the virus. One of the latest cases is an employee of "Hapirat Ha'adom" and the other visited the store for over 15 minutes, the Health Ministry said.

Meanwhile, a primary school in Petah Tikva ordered 100 of its students who live in Or Yehuda to stay at home on Tuesday, fearing they might have caught COVID-19 at the toy store.

The directive was issued by Petah Tikva Mayor Rami Greenberg, who did not consult with Health Ministry officials before. A ministry official told Haaretz they see the decision as "unreasonable."

Parents have criticized the decision, which they claim is disproportional and ill-informed. Or Yehuda Mayor Liat Shohat called on the Education Ministry to intervene, calling the directive "shameful, ignorant and even racist."

The Health Ministry stressed that it doesn't back the decision, but the Petah Tikva municipality insists the children should remain at home.

The third patient out of the latest cases returned from Italy last month and has been in isolation at home since then.

Out of the 15 cases, eight seem to have contracted the illness in Italy, and four in Israel from people who tested positive to COVID-19. The other three were guests on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was anchored in a Japanese port. 

People who would have come in close contact with the new patients will be expected to confine themselves to their homes for fourteen days, according to Health Ministry directives, joining thousands of other Israelis currently in quarantine.

On Election Day, some 4,000 Israelis under quarantine over the novel virus voted in special polling stations, to protect election officials.

Their votes are to be counted by senior Elections Committee management, after some officials had voiced concerns over coming in contact with their ballot tickets, despite no evidence to suggest potential transmission in such a case.

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