Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman (pictured) this week said that despite the Jewish state’s best efforts, coronavirus will reach Israel.
Israel has already barred incoming flights from many Far-East Asian countries, and has implemented quarantine procedures for returning Israelis who might have been infected.
“Still, unfortunately, we believe that coronavirus will come to Israel,” Litzman told ILTV.
Litzman was harshly criticized for the Health Ministry’s initial effort to prevent the deadly virus from entering Israel via Ben Gurion Airport.
Airport officials said the only measure taken was to place large posters warnings those arriving from East Asian countries to beware of possible symptoms. But, those officials noted, very few of the tired arriving passengers bother to read the signs, and even fewer follow the instructions.
But then Litzman came under fire from the heads of other Israel government ministries for implementing a forced quarantine for passengers arriving from certain countries.
Israel became the first country outside of East Asia to require an isolation period for anyone arriving from China, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Foreign Ministry officials now fear those countries might retaliate by issuing travel warnings for Israel, a measure that could impact tourism, business investment and agriculture in the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that while the arrival of coronavirus is inevitable, Israel is better prepared than most nations to handle the crisis.
Already at the beginning of the month, Netanyahu said that he had “ordered the Biological Institute to act as quickly as possible to produce a vaccine against the virus and establish a vaccine plant in Israel.”