(February 20, 2020 / JNS) Israel’s Health Ministry is preparing for the possibility of the SARS-CoV-2 virus arriving in the country, and has drawn up a plan to treat patients and prevent the spread of the virus.
While no cases have been reported in Israel, a plan is in place to set up isolation units in established hospitals, staffed by disease-control experts in the event of an outbreak, according to Israel’s Channel 12 news.
If these units are not sufficient to contain the outbreak, the plan calls for a hospital in Jerusalem and another in Tel Aviv to be commandeered for the exclusive treatment of coronavirus patients, according to the report. The ministry will also reportedly consider shutting down hotels and tourist sites, as well as imposing restrictions on large gatherings.
A group of 12 Israelis evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan on Wednesday will be transported by Magen David Adom paramedics to a quarantine unit at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer when they arrive in the country, where they will be under the care of dedicated medical staff.
Moreover, the ministry announced on Sunday that Israelis arriving in the country from China, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks, while non-Israeli nationals from those countries will not be granted entry for the foreseeable future.
The virus has already reached Egypt and Iran, and has even led the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.
According to reports, Hamas has prepared a medical complex at the Rafah border crossing, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, which contains 54 quarantine rooms equipped with the necessary medical supplies.
The Palestinian Authority has also said it has begun to take precautions.
Both organizations indicated that numerous Palestinian travelers are expected back from trips to China, the epicenter of the outbreak. The virus has infected an estimated 75,000 people worldwide and causing the deaths of more than 2,000 people, with the vast majority of cases occurring in mainland China.
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