Three more Israels were diagnosed Sunday with the COVID-19 coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 10, the Health Ministry said.
The ministry said two of those diagnosed were members of one family who had returned to Israel from Italy on Thursday and live in a community in southern Israel. All passengers of flight LY290 which landed in Israel at 2:30 p.m. were instructed to enter a 14-day quarantine at home.
The third was a person who works at the Red Pirate toy store in Or Yehuda, where another worker was diagnosed with the virus last week after returning from Italy.
All three were exhibiting light symptoms only, officials said.
The ministry said it would soon make public all sites where the three had been in recent days to warn others who may have been exposed to the pathogen.
Israel has taken far-reaching steps to prevent an outbreak, banning entry to foreigners who were in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy in the 14 days prior to arriving, and compelling all Israelis recently in these areas to self-quarantine for 14 days.
On Sunday the director-general of the Health Ministry said Israelis should not hesitate to go out and vote in Monday’s national elections, and should not be deterred by the deadly coronavirus.
Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said 16 special polling stations across the country have been set up for the 5,630 people who are under home quarantine after returning from trips abroad and there are special instructions for those individuals.
“For everyone else, I say, go vote, everything is safe and you don’t need to worry,” he said.
In a statement, the Health Ministry added that the general public need not take any special precautions when voting, though it urged voters and those staffing polling stations to maintain proper hygiene.
“The [voting] booths in Israel are safe and it is safe to go and vote,” the ministry said.
During a visit to a Magen David Adom ambulance service emergency center on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also declared that there was nothing to fear and that proper measures have been taken to ensure a safe election.
“We care about the health of the citizens. You can go to vote without concern, things are under control,” Netanyahu said during the visit, which he made together with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, the Ynet website reported. “We are in the midst of a global crisis, but there is no country that is better prepared than us.”
In a dramatic statement Wednesday, the Health Ministry urged Israelis to seriously consider refraining from traveling abroad.
Israel is the first country to urge its citizens to refrain from international travel entirely because of the outbreak, which started in China in December and has since infected over 88,000 worldwide and claimed over 3,000 lives, almost all of them in China.
The Health Ministry has faced criticism for its extreme measures, with some saying it is unnecessarily panicking people and causing economic and diplomatic damage to the country. Ministry officials have said they prefer to take a strict line than be sorry later.