Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country has enough resources to weather the global coronavirus outbreak and urged citizens and residents to avoid panic-buying supplies and food.
Speaking after a series of special discussions surrounding the coronavirus and its effects on Israel’s economy on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that most supplies reach Israel by sea including “products, raw materials… food” so there would be “no reason to storm the supermarkets.”
“There is more than enough food and there will be more than enough food. Regarding supplies by air, we are taking all steps and measures at our disposal to ensure that here too there will be an orderly supply by air to Israel,” he added.
In Israel, so far 76 people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Thousands more are in quarantine as authorities continuously issue new directives to help contain the spread and slow the rate of infection. The coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 4,300 people and more than 120,000 have contracted the virus worldwide, as of March 11. The majority of cases have been in China, with major outbreaks in Italy and Iran.
The virus has caused some major panic across the world with anxious shoppers stocking up on toilet paper and supermarkets running out of major staples. In Israel, the panic caused the site of a major supermarket chain, where shopper order online, to crash (Hebrew link).
The coronavirus has had a major impact on the world economy, slowing markets and bringing several industries to a standstill, including aviation and tourism. COVID-19 could cost the global economy $1 trillion in 2020, the UN’s trade and development agency UNCTAD said this week.
Israel’s economy has also been hit but Netanyahu said it is “in an excellent situation,” and “better than most countries around the world.”
The PM pointed to a recently approved plan to establish a NIS 4 billion ($1.2 billion) fund to help local companies affected by the outbreak. He said the government is working to add more funds.
The Bank of Israel said last week that the coronavirus outbreak had not yet made a “significant macroeconomic impact” on the Israeli economy, but that if preventative measures become more serious and persistent and if economic or financial conditions worsen significantly, it would “use the variety of tools at its disposal whenever necessary.”