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Coronavirus: Should I Travel to Israel With My Kids?

A Boeing 777-200 from Israeli airliner E

This article was updated on March 9, 2020 at 2:33 PM to reflect the latest instructions from the Israeli Ministry of Health requiring anyone coming in from overseas to self-quarantine.

The coronavirus, or more precisely, COVID-19, is wreaking havoc on international travel — and Israel is no exception. Flights to Israel have been canceled and travelers have been put under quarantine.

We’re here to break down the state of the outbreak in Israel, how it’s affecting travel, and whether or not you should be worried about if you are traveling with kids.

What is the deal with coronavirus in Israel?

As of March 10, 2020, there are 58 people who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in Israel. The majority of these patients either came from Italy, where the outbreak is currently raging (with more than 9,000 confirmed cases and more than 600 fatalities), other European countries, or were in close proximity with those Israeli travelers who contracted the virus.

Over tens of thousands are in quarantine in Israel right now. Currently, the CDC has no warning against travel to Israel — however, Israel has currently closed itself to any tourists who can not demonstrate the ability to self-quarantine for 14 days.

This means anyone who cannot demonstrate that they have a permanent address in Israel in which they can self-quarantine will be sent back.

Should I be avoiding the airport in general?

According to the World Health Organization, there’s no reason to avoid general travel, except for certain countries. It’s important to practice proper hygiene: wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, sanitize surfaces, and avoid touching your face. There’s no need to wear a mask unless your doctor instructs otherwise.

So can I travel to Israel?

As aforementioned, if you are a tourist, you will not be allowed into Israel unless you can demonstrate that you can self-quarantine for 14 days. (But, yes: Nobody travels just to “enjoy” being quarantined in a different location.)

Flights to Israel have been canceled by many European airlines because of these regulations from the Israeli Ministry of Health, and with the new instructions, we should expect many more cancellations.

Is the coronavirus particularly dangerous to kids?

Fortunately, the answer to that is no. The coronavirus is most lethal for people 60 and older, especially those with other health conditions. Generally, if your child is healthy, as of now, you have no cause for concern. Data suggests that the virus is presenting itself more mildly in children.

How do I talk to my kids about coronavirus?

Harvard Medical School has some great advice about how to talk to your kids about the coronavirus. However, our favorite resource is this comic from NPR which explains the virus in a great, age-appropriate way.

Is the coronavirus particularly dangerous to pregnant women?

That we do not know — there just isn’t enough information out there. There is however no evidence that the virus is passed to the baby or that it is transmissible to breastmilk. Our best advice would be to talk to your doctor before any travel.

So, should I cancel my flight?

If your airline hasn’t yet canceled your flight, this is a decision you should make for yourself — along with your doctor and your kid’s pediatrician. This is a developing situation and you should keep in touch with your physicians and airlines accordingly. The truth is that many are choosing to cancel all travel until this outbreak is over, and that is understandable.

Header image: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

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