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February 3, 2020 10:41 am

Netanyahu Holds National Preparedness Meeting Over Coronavirus Outbreak

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a special discussion in Jerusalem on national preparedness regarding the coronavirus outbreak in China. Photo: Haim Zach/GPO. – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting at his office in Jerusalem with ministry director generals and staff officials on Sunday morning to discuss how to deal with the recent outbreak of coronavirus in China.

“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,” said Netanyahu following the meeting.

He expressed his appreciation for China’s efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019 n-Cov), but added that “the spread is apparently inevitable, in the sense that we will need to deal with it forthwith.”

Netanyahu explained that if and when the virus arrives in Israel, there will be procedures in place to isolate and treat the infected, including isolation for two weeks at home.

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“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,” said Netanyahu.

To cut down the time required to respond to a public health emergency, Netanyahu assigned one authority, the head of the National Security Council, to coordinate any preparations with other ministries required to deal with the virus.

He 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,” said Netanyahu.

The Health Ministry will be responsible for a public information campaign including instructions on maintaining hygiene in order to prevent infection.

According to his office, Netanyahu said during the discussion that all necessary measures must be utilized to prevent the virus from spreading in Israel, and that over-preparedness was preferable to under-preparedness.

The State of Israel was among the first countries to restrict flights and land entry for travelers from China to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The virus has taken at least 360 lives in China in the last three weeks and has spread to more than 17,000 in at least 23 countries, according to The New York Times,  which notes that “various epidemiological models estimate that the real number of cases is 100,000 or even more.”

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