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Israel Refused to Allow Passengers Off a Korean Air Plane and Sent it Straight Back to Seoul Over Coronavirus Fears

Israel Refused to Allow Passengers Off a Korean Air Plane and Sent it Straight Back to Seoul Over Coronavirus Fears

Israeli officials refused to allow 130 South Korean’s off a Korean Air aircraft on its arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on Saturday night citing new restrictions to stop the spread of the COVID-19 novel Coronavirus outbreak. Cases of the virus in South Korea jumped suddenly on Friday with the number of confirmed cases now at 602 and five recorded deaths.

Korean Air flight KE957, operated by a Boeing 777-200, arrived in Tel Aviv at around 7.30 pm on Saturday evening after a near 12-hour flight from Seoul. But on arrival, the aircraft was prevented from parking at a normal gate and instead it was met by officials wearing full protective HAZMAT gear.

Twelve Israeli citizens were eventually allowed to disembark the plane and were taken away in Magen David Adom ambulances. Under new rules announced on Sunday morning by Israel’s Health Ministry, it’s likely that these passengers will be required to enter quarantine for 14-days.

The aircraft was then sent immediately back to Seoul. The airport authority said it was offering help to Korean tourists who are currently stranded in Tel Aviv. Korean Air has cancelled its next service to Tel Aviv which was originally scheduled to depart on Monday.

South Korea’s foreign ministry filed a formal complaint with Israel, demanding that such as incident not happen again in the future.

President Moon Jae-in raised the threat level concerning the COVID-19 outbreak to its highest level as cases in South Korea spiralled. The southeastern city of Daegu has effectively been placed in lockdown as authorities try to contain the outbreak.

On Sunday, Israel’s Health Ministry confirmed it would deny entry to all foreign citizens who had been in South Korea or Japan in the last 14-days before arrival. The ban is set to come into effect on Monday.

According to the Jeruselum Post, a message briefly posted on the Health Ministry’s website said Israel was about to deny entry to all non-Israeli passport holders. The message was quickly removed but it suggests that Israel is prepared to completely close its borders in an attempt to isolate itself from the COVID-19 threat.

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