The response, including forced quarantine for tens of thousands, will end up saving a lot of lives, as well as a lot of money
What started as a local viral outbreak in central China has spread in just a matter of weeks into a worldwide phenomenon, and we are likely nowhere near the peak of the coronavirus crisis, doctors believe.
Countries around the world are taking steps to protect their populations – and their economies, and Israel has responded perhaps more aggressively than other countries. Already in mid-February, Israel closed off its borders to residents of China and South Korea, and as the virus spread to Europe, Israeli medical officials added countries like Italy, Germany, and Spain to the list. Not only that; Israeli citizens who have visited these countries are required to self-quarantine for two weeks upon their return. Failure to follow the rules could result in criminal prosecution, Health Ministry officials said.
Like almost everything else in Israel, the strict policy regarding quarantine has become a matter of spirited debate. Is requiring tens of thousands of otherwise healthy people who returned from abroad – or, for that matter, came into contact with foreign tourists who were later found to have contracted the disease – into quarantine. But is it really necessary? After all, among young, healthy people the morbidity rate for coronavirus is extremely low, about 0.2%.