Israelis in contact with US tourist in Jerusalem ordered into virus quarantine

Israelis in contact with US tourist in Jerusalem ordered into virus quarantine

NY woman visited capital February 23-27; Health Ministry lists her movements including malls, cafes, buses and a train; Greek tourists diagnosed after Israel-West Bank trip

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

People stroll through the Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem on March 13, 2013. (Sarah Schuman/FLASH90)
People stroll through the Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem on March 13, 2013. (Sarah Schuman/FLASH90)

The Health Ministry announced Thursday that a tourist from New York who was recently in Jerusalem and visited a string of public places was diagnosed in the US with the coronavirus.

The woman, who was diagnosed on Wednesday evening, stayed in Jerusalem on February 23-27, the ministry said in a statement.

An investigation by the ministry into her movements revealed she had spent time in malls and cafes, on buses, and in a busy supermarket. The ministry ordered all who had been in the same places at the same time to immediately begin 14 days of self-quarantine at home.

The development came as Israel applied ever more stringent travel measures that have left thousands of Israelis under orders to go into self-imposed isolation. Though entry to the country has been banned for visitors from a list of countries, including several in Europe, the restrictions have so far not included the US.

On Thursday Foreign Minister Israel Katz told the Kan public broadcaster that the US was not put on the list because cases there are not yet considered to be a wide outbreak. Katz warned, though, that Israel is “on the verge of an outbreak that we can’t control.”

Israelis enjoy the sun as they sit outside Cafe Rimon in the center of Jerusalem, January 14, 2013. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The American tourist arrived in the country on flight LY8 that left New York at 11:50 p.m. on February 22 and reached Israel on February 23 at 5:10 p.m., local time, the ministry said in a partial itinerary of her movements.

She left on LY27 from Israel at 1:05 a.m. on February 28 and arrived in New York the same day at 6 a.m. EST.

On February 23, a Sunday, between 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. she was at Cafe Rimon in the Mamilla shopping parade where she also visited the Zara clothing shop.

The following day, Monday, between 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. she was at another branch of Cafe Rimon located on Ben Yehuda Street in downtown Jerusalem.

From there she took a 74 bus on King George Street and alighted on Hebron Road. Later that day, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. she was at the Osher Ad supermarket in the Hadar Mall, on Pierre Koenig Street.

On February 25 she was at the First Station venue where she ate at the Kitchen Station, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The next day, Wednesday, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. she visited the Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot branch at 9 Heleni Hamalka Street. She later visited the Fox Home store, Osher Ad, and the Tzomet book store, all in the Hadar Mall, between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

On Thursday at 10 a.m. she took a 74 bus from Hebron Road to the nearby Talpiot area in the south of the capital.

From 11 a.m. till 1 p.m. she was in the Caffit coffee shop at 36 Emek Refaim Street. At 7:30 p.m. she took another 74 bus, also from Hebron Road to the central bus station. She took the train from there to Ben Gurion Airport at 8:30 p.m.

The ministry said anyone who was in the same areas as the women during the specified hours should go into self-quarantine for 14 days from the day they were possibly exposed, and register as such on the Health Ministry website.

Later Thursday, the ministry said that some tourists from Greece who were in Israel and the West Bank on February 19-27 were also discovered to have the virus after they returned to Greece. The ministry said that together with the Palestinian Authority it would conduct an investigation to trace the tourists’ movements. The PA reported Thursday that four people in the Bethlehem-area hotel where they stayed were suspected to have contracted COVID-19.

Commuters at the newly built Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem, September 25, 2018. (Aharon Krohn/FLASH90)

On Wednesday the Health Ministry announced a series of dramatic new measures and restrictions intended to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country, sending arrivals from five Western European nations into immediate quarantine and limiting mass gatherings throughout the country.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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