Prisoner (illustrative)
Prisoner (illustrative)iStock

Israel's Health Ministry on Thursday warned that the 14-day self-quarantine for travelers returning from China and other affected areas is mandatory and violators can be charged with a criminal offense.

The notice comes after Hebrew news site Ynet published several articles on travelers who, upon return, took the two-week paid vacation from work but claimed they were "unable" to remain at home, instead spending time shopping and spending time with others.

"Violating the mandatory home quarantine may end in a criminal charge resulting in up to seven years in prison, if it [the violation was] purposeful, and up to three years if it was done through negligence," the Ministry said in a statement.

"Anyone interested in reporting a violation of the home quarantine can do so via the Health Ministry's designated site for the issue of the coronavirus."

Several weeks ago, the Israeli Health Ministry signed an order adding COVID-19 to the list of infectious diseases. The government later signed an order mandating that any resident or citizen who spent time in China less than 14 days prior to landing in Israel quarantine him- or herself for 14 days after landing.

The order requires travelers returning from China to remain in home quarantine for two weeks, to immediately seek treatment if they do have any symptoms, and to avoid physical contact with other people. People seeking treatment are asked to inform the hospital or health clinic of their planned arrival beforehand, and to wear face masks to reduce the chances of spreading the virus