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Top Israeli Health Official Justifies Country’s Harsh Anti-coronavirus Measures (AUDIO INTERVIEW)
An airliner that arrived directly from Seoul is shown on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on the evening of February 22 before flying back to South Korea without being allowed to offload its non-Israeli passengers. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images)

Top Israeli Health Official Justifies Country’s Harsh Anti-coronavirus Measures (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

Dr. Asher Salmon tells The Media Line that other nations are paying attention and – to a certain degree – following suit

Concern is spreading in Israel over coronavirus.

As of Sunday, there was one known patient in the country. This person was exposed aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which docked in Japan, and tested positive only after being flown home on a special quarantined flight. The patient, as well as other former passengers from the cruise ship, are now in isolation at a hospital at Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv.

But this weekend, South Korean pilgrims tested positive after returning home from the Holy Land. It is believed that they were already infected when they came and that they interacted with hundreds and perhaps thousands of people during their stay.

A decision was quickly taken by Israel’s Health Ministry to bar non-Israelis arriving from South Korea – but not quickly enough to prevent Saturday night’s landing of a direct flight from Seoul. Twelve Israeli citizens were allowed to disembark before being placed in quarantine, but the remaining passengers were forced to once again take to the skies.

All told, Israel is now barring entry to non-Israelis arriving from seven points of departure. Aside from South Korea, they are China, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand and Singapore.

Critics believe this entry policy is quite harsh, even in light of all the unknowns about coronavirus. To hear the other side, The Media Line spoke with Dr. Asher Salmon, director of international relations for the Israeli Health Ministry.

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