Israel's Netanyahu discusses coronavirus concerns with Pence

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, March 8, 2020. Oded Balilty/Pool via Reuters

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed coronavirus concerns with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday amid reports Israel is about to restrict the entry of travelers from parts of the United States.

Both men agreed to follow up their telephone call with discussions later on Sunday between U.S. and Israeli health officials on technological and scientific cooperation and ways to “confront the challenges” posed by the virus, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Pence is leading the U.S. federal response to the coronavirus after the Republican administration was criticized for sending mixed messages and unpreparedness.

Israeli media have reported that Israel, which has had 25 cases of the virus, is considering restricting the entry of visitors from several U.S. states where the illness has spread.

Israel’s Health Ministry has scheduled a news conference for later on Sunday on measures it is taking against what Netanyahu has described as a global pandemic.

Israel has already ordered travelers from Germany, France, Spain, Andorra, San Marino, Austria, Switzerland, Macau, Hong Kong, China, France, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand to go into home quarantine.

The measure effectively cut off tourism from those countries and led some foreign airlines to suspend their flights to Israel.

Reporting by Jeffrey Heller, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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