After two and a half weeks of quarantine on the Diamond Princess, 11 Israeli passengers who tested negative for the virus disembarked from the ship on Thursday morning and were greeted by Israeli health ministry officials wearing protective gear.
The health officials led them to a Japanese military bus that drove them to the private jet waiting to fly them home to Israel.
After entering the Japanese military bus and sitting down, the Israelis began singing “Am Yisrael Chai” – with their mouths covered by masks of course.
Earlier on Thursday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced that a fourth Israeli tested positive for the coronavirus and will be transferred to a Japanese military hospital for treatment.
When the jet arrives in Israel early Friday morning, it will land at a distance from the passenger terminals and a limited number of airport employees will be involved in handling the jet.
The foreign crew manning the jet will not be permitted to enter Israel while the jet is being prepared for its immediate flight back to Asia.
The Israelis will be transferred in ambulances to a special wing in the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer where they will be quarantined for another two weeks.
The sterile isolation rooms at Sheba are equipped with remotely controlled medical equipment, including sensors and a medical robot that can perform an examination without a doctor’s presence, a Channel 13 News report said. The patients will be given handheld devices to facilitate communication from outside the rooms.
The report added that relatives came to the hospital on Wednesday and left gifts and food. One family left a bottle of Corona beer on the table next to a family photograph.
Meanwhile, the Israel Health Ministry says that Israelis caught violating the mandatory home quarantine for travelers recently in East Asia could face a prison sentence of up to seven years. Travelers returning from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Thailand must self-quarantine for 14 days over concerns they may carry the new coronavirus.
Japan’s Health Ministry announced on Thursday morning that two Diamond Princess passengers who contracted the coronavirus and were transferred to hospitals have died from the virus. The ministry said that the deceased were both in their 80s and had pre-existing chronic health conditions.
On early Thursday afternoon, the health ministry announced that another 13 passengers on the Diamond Princess have contracted the virus.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)