Netanyahu to European leaders: Global effort needed to combat coronavirus


“This must be a worldwide effort,” Netanyahu said. “This isn’t a matter of who does it first, but of how we can all reach it first.”

Researchers around the world must cooperate to improve the speed and ease of testing for COVID-19, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video conference with seven European countries.

“This must be a worldwide effort,” Netanyahu said. “This isn’t a matter of who does it first, but of how we can all reach it first.”

Other participants in the video conference were Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Hungarian President Viktor Orban, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban.

The prime minister posited that “improving the tests is the first point; it’s very critical.”

Netanyahu suggested to “totally change the pace of the tests,” and said Israel and the US are working together to develop home tests like the ones available for pregnancy of HIV.

“When that happens…we will be able to efficiently separate more healthy people from sick people. That is better for our health and better for the economy, since we are going to face serious problems with mass quarantines,” he explained. “We can’t run economies like this.”

Netanyahu suggested that if researchers in Europe have contributions on this front, they should be in touch with the US.

The next step in “improving the scientific and technological means to fight the disease” is to find a vaccine, he added.

The prime minister also called for stopping or limiting passenger flights, as Israel and other countries have done, but continue supply lines between countries.

“I recommend that you have safe centers and safe airplanes,” he added. “In other words, you can designate airports for us, for all of us in Europe, and we will declare a clean airport. We will put consistent effort into keeping it clean. We will wash and sterilize it all the time, around the clock, and check the people who work there all the time.”

Netanyahu said China has taken similar steps to maintain its exports and industry and constantly tests its essential workers.

The clean airports will save countries the effort of having to constantly check and clean individual planes, and can also be a place for leaders and researchers to meet so that they don’t have to fully rely on the Internet, he explained.

Countries should share with each other news of what efforts have been effective or not, Netanyahu said, and he asked the leaders to designate a person for Israel and others to contact on matters related to the novel coronavirus.

The video conference came as Israel has had over 25,500 people in quarantine and 39 cases of COVID-19, four of whom have completely recovered.

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