The Health Ministry is reportedly planning to limit gatherings to no more than 2,5000 participants as the number of Israelis who may have been exposed to the new coronavirus rapidly expanded with the diagnosis of new cases, Channel 12 television news reported Wednesday.
Health officials will seek permission from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order the restriction when they review the situation during an emergency meeting called for later in the day, to be attended by the premier and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.
In addition, the ministry is looking to expand the list of countries requiring Israelis who have visited them to self-quarantine when they return home. The ministry wants to add the US, Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland to the list, the report said.
Previous similar demands relating to countries affected by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have also included banning foreigners to enter Israel from those locations.
Both the new measures require the prime minister to give the go-ahead, according to the report.
Earlier Wednesday the Health Ministry ordered soccer fans to isolate themselves at home after it was discovered that a teenager who has been diagnosed with the disease attended a major game last week in Tel Aviv.
In a series of sweeping measures the ministry also instructed all 1,150 students at a high school, plus an elementary class in a different school, to self-quarantine at home after the teen and a 5th-grade teacher were separately diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The orders came after the ministry announced late Tuesday that three more Israelis had tested positive for the virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to 15.
Israel has taken far-reaching steps to prevent an outbreak, banning entry to foreigners who were in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy in the 14 days prior to arriving, and compelling all Israelis recently in those areas to self-quarantine for 14 days.
In a statement last month, the Health Ministry urged Israelis to seriously consider refraining from traveling abroad. Israel was the first country to urge its citizens to refrain from international travel entirely because of the outbreak, which started in China in December and has since infected over 88,000 worldwide and claimed over 3,000 lives, almost all of them in China.
The Health Ministry has faced criticism for its extreme measures, with some saying it is unnecessarily panicking people and causing economic and diplomatic damage to the country. Ministry officials have said they prefer to take a strict line than be sorry later.