With the global Coronavirus outbreak hitting the economic activities and supply of essential goods, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country was depended on "supply lines" from various countries and that he has had a telephonic conversation with PM Narendra Modi. His remarks came during joint statements with the finance minister, the economy and industry minister, the Bank of Israel's governor and the finance ministry director-general on dealing with the economic implications of the coronavirus.
"I also spoke to the prime minister of India, my friend Narendra Modi. We are dependent on supply lines from various countries. We are looking into it all the time," Netanyahu told a press conference on Wednesday. The Israeli Prime Minister's Office, however, did not clearly spell out the subject of Netanyahu's discussions with Modi in its press release.
The Israeli prime minister has announced a package of 10 billion NIS (USD 2.86 billion) to facilitate economic activity in the midst of challenges posed by the spread of the virus. "The Israeli economy is in a better situation than most economies in the world: Unemployment is low, growth is high and the debt to GDP ratio is good," Netanyahu said.
"However, we have a great challenge here that we all are feeling and which we are all aware of. In our view, we can also deal with it in a way that will allow us to get through it successfully in peace," he said. "Not without difficulty, and not without sacrifice, but in the end, in peace, and I think that we can do this together in an optimal manner," Netanyahu asserted.
In addition, Netanyahu asked the people of Israel to change routines and discouraged them from 'embracing, shaking hands and kissing'. He said, "I am asking you, citizens of Israel, to change your routines in order to deal with an external threat. In short, to change. It is not easy. It requires us to make many changes, such as some things that Israelis love to do. We love to embrace. We love to shake hands. We love to kiss. No more."
The deadly novel coronavirus that first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year has claimed over 4,200 lives and infected more than 117,330 people across 107 countries and territories, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) describing the outbreak a pandemic.
UN chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged world governments to urgently scale up their response to the novel coronavirus if they are to stand a chance of stemming its spread. "Today's declaration of a pandemic is a call to action - for everyone, everywhere," the secretary-general said in a statement.
"We can still change the course of this pandemic -- but that means addressing inaction," he said. "I call on every government to step up and scale up their efforts -- now." "The best science tells us, if countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response, we can go a long way to mitigating transmission," Guterres said. His appeal echoed an earlier one by the World Health Organization, which officially labeled the outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday and blamed its spread and severity on "alarming levels of inaction".
(With AP inputs)