Netanyahu calls coronavirus a ‘global pandemic’, mulls quarantine for visitors to some US states

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night called the spread of coronavirus a “global pandemic,” and the director-general of the Health Ministry said some restrictions could be placed on Israelis returning from some parts of the United States or visitors from those states.

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said Saturday evening during a television news interview that Israel could require returning Israelis or visitors from some areas in the United States, where there are high rates of infection, to go into a 14-day quarantine. He said the decision would be made on a state-by-state basis, but specified New York, California and Washington. A final decision would be made late Saturday night or Sunday, he said.

Meanwhile, the number of Israelis diagnosed with the coronavirus jumped to 25 on Saturday night, including a bus driver, 38, who drove around several Greek travelers who were infected with the virus and is reported to be fighting for his life.

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Netanyahu announced several new steps in Israel’s fight to contain the virus in a statement on Saturday night.

He said that since the virus does not appear to be affecting children and young people he will over the extended Passover vacation enlist young people to help use bleach, which the virus is sensitive to, to disinfect public places including railway stations and bus stations,

He also said that he would seek to open a line of credit to help businesses and companied affected by the virus.