Israeli officials disinvited almost 3,000 international runners who had signed up for the upcoming Tel Aviv Marathon, one of several restrictive measures the country has taken in response to growing fears that the virus could gain a foothold in the country on the eve of national elections on March 2, according to local media reports.
The Health Ministry allowed the annual race — with an expected field of 40,000 — to go ahead as planned Friday, but without the hefty contingent of racers planning to travel from outside Israel, the daily Maariv newspaper reported.
Officials also barred non-Israelis from reentering the country if their travels had taken them to South Korea or Japan in the two weeks before returning, the paper said. And Health Minister Yaakov Litman told Army Radio on Monday that his agency was weighing mandatory quarantine measures for anyone arriving from Italy or Australia.
The moves follow a spike in coronavirus anxiety after members of a group of South Korean tourists tested positive for the infection after completing a nine-day tour of popular religious and natural sites across Israel. More than 200 Israelis who might have overlapped with the group — including schoolchildren, hotel workers and tour guides — have begun to quarantine themselves at home.
Israeli voters are a week away from heading to the polls for their third national election in a year. Election officials said they were readying special voting places for citizens under isolation orders and preparing other steps to reassure the electorate.
Correction: Due to a translation error, an earlier version of this update said officials had barred Israelis from reentering the country if their travels had taken them to South Korea or Japan in the two weeks before returning. However, only non-Israelis are affected.
Source: Washington Post