PM Netanyahu and heads of the health system
PM Netanyahu and heads of the health system Kobi Gideon, GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday evening that no public gatherings of over 100 people would be allowed as Israel tightens restrictions to contain the novel coronavirus.

"We are dealing with a global epidemic, which is affecting all countries. I have spoken with world officials who have praised Israel's preparedness. Israel is entering this crisis in excellent economic condition," Netanyahu said at a press conference.

"You have to understand that this crisis is fundamentally different from other crises like terrorist attacks and war. We are doing everything to address an external threat and to change as little as possible the routine of private life."

"I ask the citizens of Israel to change your routine to deal with the threat. Avoid shaking hands, but wash your hands, maintain personal hygiene, put a handkerchief on your face when someone sneezes."

The press conference was attended by Health Minister Ya'akov Litzman, Maj. Gen. Meir Ben-Shabbat and Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic earlier Wednesday.