Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being thanked by European leaders for his advice to take swift and early action against the spread of coronavirus.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz “thanked God” for Netanyahu’s early warnings to treat COVID-19 as a global pandemic and to “wake up and do something.”
“I contacted Benjamin Netanyahu and he gave me his opinion. He told me that some European countries were not doing enough. He thinks that Europe has not approached the subject as it should have,” Kurz said. “This has allowed us to start dealing with the subject more firmly and to take decisions more quickly. I therefore thank Benjamin Netanyahu for the discussion we had a few hours ago.”
Austria was concerned because it shares a border with Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries in the world.
“The number of people dead [from the coronavirus] has unfortunately increased significantly in Austria,” Kurz told Israel’s public broadcaster Kan. “But we have managed to respond more quickly to the crisis than other European countries, with the closure of our borders and other measures.”
Kurz said his conversation with Netanyahu shook him and prompted him to take drastic actions in Austria with a strict stay-at-home policy and much of its economy shut down. Austria reported 5,560 diagnoses and 31 deaths as of Wednesday in a country of almost 9 million.
The Czech Republic prime minister also praised Netanyahu for his advice that spurred him to take strict measures as well, according to international affairs commentator Tom Gross.
“As a result, a country like the Czech Republic has 11 fatalities while other small European countries did not listen to Netanyahu like Belgium has 353 fatalities and the Netherlands has 639 fatalities,” Gross told ILTV.
Back on March 9, Netanyahu held a video conference with seven European leaders to discuss the challenges and needed cooperation between countries during the global coronavirus crisis.
“I welcome this opportunity to have this videoconference, because I think that we can help our countries, and help each other, by sharing information and certain activities, because I know that time is of the essence — both your time and our countries’ time,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu, who himself entered quarantine after one of his advisors was diagnosed with coronavirus, is conducting business as usual. Netanyahu has tested negative for the virus but said he chose to isolate at home “in order to set a personal example.”