Netanyahu: Only a matter of time until coronavirus reaches Israel

Israel cannot prevent coronavirus from entering the country, says PM, and can only delay the inevitable and minimize the damage.

Tags: Coronavirus
Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Government meeting Sunday
Government meeting Sunday
Haim Zach/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened a large-scale discussion including ministers, ministry director generals and all relevant staff officials Sunday morning to discuss national preparations to deal with the coronavirus epidemic.

During the meeting, which was held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the coronavirus’ arrival in Israel is “unavoidable”, but could be delayed.

“We have just concluded an in-depth and detailed discussion with all Israeli government officials on how to deal with the outbreak of the coronavirus. Our readiness will include all arms of the Israeli administration. Our foremost goal is to postpone the arrival of the virus to Israel. I say ‘postpone’ because its arrival is unavoidable. We will then identify, treat, isolate and deal with those infected.”

“I must say that this is unavoidable even though the Chinese government has made great efforts here. On behalf of the government of Israel, I would like to express appreciation for China’s effort to prevent the spread of this virus; however, the spread is apparently inevitable in the sense that we will need to deal with it forthwith.”

Netanyahu added that Israel is working with the Palestinian Authority to prepare for the virus’ arrival, noting that Israel’s health ministry will quarantine anyone diagnosed with coronavirus for two weeks to ensure that they do not spread the virus.

“Because we estimate that the virus will arrive, we will also deal with the procedures designed to isolate those who have been infected and treat them. This treatment will include isolation for two weeks at home. We will explain to Israelis exactly what is required of them. We have closed land crossings, seaports and airports to arrivals from China; this is temporary. We are also updating the Palestinian Authority on all preventive steps and public health measures that they must take into account here as well.”

Israel is working on a vaccine to combat the virus, Netanyahu continued, while parallel efforts to develop a vaccine are being pursued abroad.

“We are sharply cutting bureaucracy. On matters that are necessary here to protect the public health, there will be no bureaucracy, and there will be one authority, the head of the National Security Council, who will decide between the various ministries. I am making it clear that the State of Israel, as of now, has moved ahead of the world on many things, also in dealing with this issue and we intend to do so on another matter. I have instructed the Biological Institute and the Health Ministry to work on producing a vaccine for the virus and to set up a vaccination network. It could be that on this issue as well, if we work fast enough, with the appropriate budgeting and the talented people we have, the State of Israel will be ahead of the world.”