The passengers aboard the Diamond Princess began disembarking on Wednesday after two weeks in quarantine off of Yokohama port due to an outbreak of the coronavirus.
The process will be slow and is estimated to last until Friday, with about 500 passengers slated to disembark on Wednesday.
Two of the 12 Israeli passengers, Edna and Henry Ben Shabbat, left the ship early Wednesday morning and the other Israelis are scheduled to leave on Thursday by 6 p.m. The couple said that they were subject to many many medical examinations before being allowed off the ship.
A private jet manned by a foreign crew is flying from Thailand to Tokyo on Wednesday and will fly the Israelis home when their medical processing is completed, where they will immediately be brought to a special isolation unit at Sheba Medical Center.
The returning Israelis will not be able to use any possessions they used on the ship until they are thoroughly disinfected. Relatives of an extended family group from Eilat who were on the cruise asked the chairman of the UTJ Eilat branch, Ohr Meir Maimon, for assistance in finding tefillin for their relatives to use during the isolation period.
Maimon approached the chairman of the Eilat religious council, Chaim Amar, who obtained tefillin for the family members to use while in isolation.
Magen Dovid Adom stated on Wednesday that they are ready to transfer the Israelis upon arrival in Israel. The transfer from the plane to Sheba will be carried out by paramedics wearing protective gear and the ambulances used for the transfer will be thoroughly disinfected afterward.
עם נחיתתם של 12 הישראלים ששהו בבידוד בספינה מול חופי יפן, הם יפונו באמבולנסים של מדא לשיבא בתל השומר.
צוותי מד"א ערוכים לפינוי כשהם מוגנים בערכת מיגון מיוחדת. לאחר הפינוי, האמבולנסים יחוטאו ע"י מערכת מיוחדת, שמבטיחה שמירה על בריאות החולים והפצועים הבאים שיפונו ושל צוותי מד"א. pic.twitter.com/O6BjihcNZu
— מגן דוד אדום (@mda_israel) February 19, 2020
The three Israelis who contracted the coronavirus will remain hospitalized in Japan for the time being. However, according to Prof. Ran Nir-Paz of Hadassah Medical Center, the Israelis’ symptoms are very mild and all three are likely to be released within a week. They will then be able to return to Israel on a regular aircraft since once their symptoms clear, they cannot spread the virus to others or catch it again themselves.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman toured the isolation unit at Sheba in Tel Hashomer on Wednesday. The unit is set up in a separate building from the main hospital.
Netanyahu explained his policy regarding Israel’s response to the coronavirus at an assessment meeting on Wednesday. “Our policy is to prevent or push off the entry of the virus into Israel as much as possible,” Netanyahu said.
“As of now, we have apparently succeeded. There are complaints that we are over-preparing. I prefer and am instructing to over-prepare rather than under-prepare. That’s our main approach. This is our second large meeting but we’re meeting all the time and receiving updates. I emphasize again – over-preparation is better than lack of preparation.”
בהערכת מצב בבית החולים שיבא בנושא ההיערכות של מדינת ישראל לנגיף הקורונה. אני שומע את התלונות על היערכות-יתר שלנו ומבקש להדגיש: המדיניות שלי היא שעדיפה היערכות-יתר על היערכות-חסר. נעשה הכל כדי לשמור על בריאותם של אזרחי ישראל. pic.twitter.com/Y7ByTtuxa5
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 19, 2020