Israel turns back travellers from Italy, S. Korea, S’pore over virus fears

Passengers wearing protective masks arrive at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. (AP pic)

TEL AVIV: Israel denied entry to dozens of foreign nationals who landed on flights from Italy on Thursday, as the Jewish state discouraged travel as part of efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

The interior ministry had announced travellers from Italy would not be granted entry, adding it to a list of barred countries including Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore as well as Macau and Hong Kong.

Three flights originating from Italy then landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.

Twenty-five foreign nationals, including 19 Italians, who landed on the flight from Bergamo were denied entry and will be flown back, the interior ministry said.

Another 23 foreigners on an Easy Jet flight from Italy were also blocked from entering, a ministry spokeswoman said.

The Jewish state has also taken the rare step of discouraging its citizens from travelling abroad.

“Travel to conferences and other international congregations should be avoided, including trips to religious events where people from many countries gather,” the health ministry said.

Israel has recorded three confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus, including two from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and an Israeli who had been in northern Italy.