In a special operation by the Israel Airport Authority (IAA) and the Health Ministry to send all South Korean tourists in Israel back home due to fear of the coronavirus, 622 South Koreans left Israel on Sunday night.
There were still between 800 and 900 South Koreans in Israel as of Monday morning, according to a statement by the IAA. Many of them had no choice but to spend the night in the airport as hotels were reluctant to allow them to stay due to the fear of other guests.
Ben-Gurion Airport staff assisted the tourists, offering them food, water and mattresses and arranging special flights to fly the South Koreans home after Korean Air suspended flights to Israel.
As of Monday, Israel is barring all foreign nationals who have been in South Korea and Japan in the past two weeks from entering the country.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) February 24, 2020
The Israeli government decided that all South Koreans in Israel should be flown home after over 200 Israelis were required to self-quarantine over the weekend due to contact with South Korean tourists who tested positive for the coronavirus in South Korea after returning from a tour of Israel.
As of Monday, a total of 29 tourists from a South Korean tour group of 77 were diagnosed with the coronavirus.
South Korea is suffering a serious outbreak of the coronavirus with 833 cases as of Monday, the largest amount of cases outside of China. The highest amount of fatalities from the virus outside China is in Iran, which has reported 50 deaths.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)