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Netanyahu: No Need to Postpone Election Over Coronavirus

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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A tourist from South Korea at theBen Gurion airport, Israel,  Feb. 24, 2020
A tourist from South Korea at theBen Gurion airport, Israel, Feb. 24, 2020Credit: Ariel Schalit,AP
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Amid the global outbreak of the coronavirus, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the government to open a national situation room. The forum will convene daily and will be headed by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

The Health Ministry has called on all Israelis returning from Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Japan to remain in isolation at home and to report to the ministry.

A second case of coronavirus was diagnosed in Israel when an additional passenger who returned from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined off the coast of Japan, tested positive for the virus

Hundreds of Israelis have been placed in quarantine after coming in contact with Korean tourist group that included people diagnosed with coronavirus.

Bernie, Bibi and the brutal occupation: Listen to Gideon Levy

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>> For Sunday's updates on the coronavirus and Israel, click here

7:45 P.M. Health Ministry complains to police over Israelis who refused home quarantine

The Health Ministry has complained to police about Israelis who have returned from Thailand and refused to abide by the required home quarantine. There have been three separate incidents of Israelis returning and failing to quarantine themselves in their homes in accordance with authorities' instructions.  

Health ministry inspectors have so far received some 200 reports of people violating their home quarantine. These reports are usually resolved without problems, inspectors said. 

7:08 P.M. Israel's Foreign Ministry: Be cautious about traveling to northern Italy in near future

6:13 P.M. Israel to issue travel warning for Italy

The Israeli Health Ministry announced that it would issue a travel warning for Italy, where authorities are scrambling to control a serious outbreak. Israel is also considering adding the European country to its list of countries from which returning visitors are required to remain under quarantine for 14 days.

5:50 P.M. Olympics committee urges athletes to be cautious about travel

Israel's Olympics committee has urged athletes to be cautious about traveling internationally for training or competitions.

12:51 P.M. Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Afghanistan announce first coronavirus cases, all linked to Iran

Local health officials in the Iraqi holy Shi'ite city of Najaf have detected the first case of coronavirus in the country, an Iranian theology student, Iraq's health ministry said on Monday.

Bahrain also reported that a citizen of their country had tested positive to the virus after returning from Iran, while three people had been diagnosed in Kuwait, one of them a Saudi national.

Meanwhile, the Afghan health ministry has declared a state of emergency in the province of Herat, which neighbors Iran. Three suspected patients had recently returned from Iran. The confirmed case was a 35-year-old who had recently returned from the city of Qom.

11:04 A.M. Iranian MP says coronavirus death toll rises to 50 in Iranian city of Qom, government denies

Iran's semiofficial ILNA news agency is reporting that the death toll from the new coronavirus in the city of Qom is 50, quoting a local lawmaker, Ahmad Amiriabadi Farahani.

The report on Monday says the 50 deaths took place since Feb 13, and that there are more than 250 are in quarantine in the city, a popular place of religious study for Shiites from across Iran and other countries.

But Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi disputed the figure, and said in a news conference on state television that if the number of dead in Qom were even one quarter of 50 he would resign.

The official figures are that twelve people have died and up to 61 have been infected. 

10:04 A.M. Netanyahu says he currently sees no reason to postpone election due the coronavirus outbreak. "I think right now we're in control," he said in a radio interview.

9:23 A.M. Israel's Airport Authority is working to return some 800 tourists from Asia to their home countries. It added that since Sunday, 622 South Korean nationals have left Israel.

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