Israel is taking the extraordinary step of requiring a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday. Israel has reported nearly 40 cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Netanyahu said the decision had been a difficult one, in a a brief video in which he announced the new policy on social media. He added that the quarantine policy, which will force people flying into Israel to enter a two-week home isolation period, will be in effect for two weeks.

The policy will go into effect for visitors to Israel on Thursday. The quarantine requirement is believed to be the first in the world in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has now killed more than 3,800 people.

"Foreign nationals who cannot self-quarantine will be refused entry," NPR's Daniel Estrin reports. He adds, "all Israelis returning from abroad must self-quarantine."

Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman had predicted the move earlier Monday, calling it a "necessary step." He also dismissed reports in Israeli media that portrayed Israel's declaration of a universal quarantine on visitors as a concession to the United States, to avoid appearing to single out a staunch Israeli ally.

That allegation was "fake news," Litzman said, according to The Times of Israel.

There are more than 110,000 COVID-19 cases worldwide, according to a dashboard created by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. Local transmission of the coronavirus that causes the disease has now been reported in at least 56 countries, the World Health Organization says.

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