In Attempt to Curb Spread of Coronavirus, Chinese Tourists Turned Back at Tel Aviv Airport

Chinese tourists were barred from entering Israel, the Population and Immigration Authority said Saturday, as the country prepares to deal with the growing scare surrounding the deadly coronavirus that has killed at least 259 in China. 

Thirty-two Chinese citizens were put on a returning flight shortly after landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport on a connecting flight from Moscow.

Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov said “We believe it is impossible to prevent the virus from making it to Israel, but we’re trying to delay it as much as possible.”

“When it does happen, we’ll know how to handle it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will convene an emergency meeting on Sunday with ministers and public health officials to prepare for dealing with the virus.

On Friday, Israel's Foreign Ministry recommended against travel to China and urged all residents to leave after suspending all direct flights to the country on Thursday. 

Israel will also bar entrance to anyone who has visited China in the last two weeks and is not a citizen or resident of Israel, and has announced plans to order Israelis remain in quarantine for 14 days upon returning from any visits to China.