Israel's healthcare system is gearing up to cope with a potential coronavirus outbreak, but the main entry point to the country, Ben-Gurion International Airport, remains wide open, a source at the Airports Authority charges.
Preparations at the airport are minimal and ineffective in locating possible carriers of the disease, prevention, and advising inbound passengers, the source added.
According to Professor Hagai Levine, head of The Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, Ben Gurion Airport lacks the vital infrastructure to carry out coronavirus checks and to quarantine potential patients, and there is no organized plan on the matter.
Initially, the Health Ministry decided against taking action to detect the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, at Ben-Gurion entry points to avoid creating gratuitous panic. That included not measuring the temperature of people arriving from specific points of origin, such as China or Hong Kong. While such a stance may have been appropriate in the first week of the epidemic’s spread, it isn’t so any more, the Airports Authority source said, adding that the Health Ministry should take a more decisive action.
At present, anti-coronavirus measures at Ben-Gurion consist of posters in four languages – Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and English – displayed at several locations. They only mention arrivals from China, although people in countries have tested positive for coronavirus.
The signs ask those who have visited China over the past two weeks and is suffering from fever, coughing or respiratory problems to urgently contact the Magen David Adom station in the transit lounge. These posters have been placed after passport control and there is nothing to stop passengers from simply walking passed them.
Medical sources and visitors say the posters have no efficacy whatsoever, and therefore there is no clear course of action should passengers show symptoms of the virus.