Israel’s Ministry of Healthy urged Israelis on Wednesday to reconsider traveling abroad entirely as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus outbreak.
“If you don’t genuinely have to fly—don’t do so,” the ministry said in a travel warning that also advised canceling or delaying all upcoming international conferences and gatherings in Israel itself.
The ministry additionally encouraged refraining from travel to “events of a religious character at which people from many different nations gather together,” a probable reference to the Hajj pilgrimage in July, and expanded a previous travel warning for northern Italy to the entire country, reported The Times of Israel.
Israel is the first country to urge its citizens to cease all international travel because of the coronavirus, which started in China in December. Already 1,600 Israelis are under quarantine for coronavirus and there have been two confirmed cases in the country, both of whom were on a cruise ship in Japan where hundreds were infected.
The ministry previously ordered all Israelis returning from Italy to be quarantined for 14 days after Israeli officials said reports of coronavirus cases in certain European countries appear to have stemmed from travelers originating in Italy.
South Korea informed Israel over the weekend that several members of a group of pilgrims who recently returned from a trip to Israel were found to have the disease.
In Iran, 19 people have died and 139 are infected with coronavirus, Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on Wednesday.
The coronavirus has already infected more than 80,000 around the world and killed as many as 2,700 people, mostly in China.