Photo: GPO

Israel joins world effort against COVID-19

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated in a videoconference with leaders from several countries around the world in a cooperative effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz hosted the discussion, which also included the Prime Ministers of Australia, Denmark, Greece, the Czech Republic, Norway and Singapore and others.  After updating his counterparts on issues of production, research and development; Kurz said the conference has been “quite successful in containing the spread of the coronavirus.”

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis briefed the others on comprehensive monitoring programs in their own nations, particularly digital tracking to identify the spread of the contagion.

Prime Minister Netanyahu detailed Jerusalem’s recent activities pertaining to its exit strategy to transition from restrictive measures to economic restoration, while advocating the exercise of caution over unpredictable consequences of restarting their respective economies. “None of us know what happens when we open up our economies and open up the schools – and especially the young kids who cannot practice any separation, and they’ll infect one another,” Netanyahu explained, saying, “So I think we have to be ready for an accordion effect. We open up the economy – and then we have to be prepared to shut down (again).”

The Israeli leader further underscored the importance of keeping citizens informed of governmental “guidelines and parameters” to ensure the continued functioning of national economies while ensuring public compliance if a reimposition of restrictions becomes necessary to combat potential spikes in infection rates.

He also stressed the key role the reopening of international travel routes in bolstering the global business, particularly the resumption of international flight routes. Even though an Israeli company with Zoom technology was just purchased for $1 billion earlier this week, Netanyahu said the hi-tech sector plays only a small role in the national economy. After highlighting the need of people to travel and meet one another in person, the Israeli Premier said he looks forward to further discussions about jumpstarting tourism with the Greek Premier and Austrian Chancellor.

Upon conclusion of the video conference, the leaders agreed their respective tourism ministers would hold designated meetings on travel and aviation under Athens’ direction. There was also consensus that Denmark will lead consultations on the reopening of schools, and that Israel’s cyber directorate will head consultation on the creation of databases without violating individual privacy.