The first case of an Israeli diagnosed with the coronavirus who was not in quarantine was confirmed on Thursday in a man who returned from Italy on Sunday, the Health Ministry announced on Thursday morning. He was on El Al flight LY 382 from Milan, which landed at 4:10 p.m. on Sunday at Ben Gurion Airport, the ministry said.
The confirmation of the virus in an Israeli who has been in contact with others for four days before being diagnosed raises fears that he may have spread the virus to others before being diagnosed and significantly increases the risk of the coronavirus spreading in Israel.
The Health Ministry is contacting everyone they know to have been in contact with the man since he returned from Italy and instructing them to self-quarantine at home.
“Anyone who was on this flight must immediately enter home quarantine for 14 days from the date of the landing and report this on the Health Ministry website,” a ministry statement says.
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The newly diagnosed Israeli was quarantined at the Sheba Medical Center in the same unit as the Israelis who returned from Japan after being quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
This is the first case of an Israeli diagnosed with the coronavirus from a country other than Japan. Two Israelis who returned from Japan after being quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and declared healthy were diagnosed with the virus in Israel while in isolation at Sheba Medical Center. On Thursday, it was announced that one of them has fully recovered and is set to be released from the hospital.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said on Thursday that any foreign nationals who have been in Italy recently will be banned from entering Israel. On Wednesday, the Health Ministry stated that all Israeli citizens who return from Italy will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks and on Thursday afternoon, after the Israeli who had been in Italy was diagnosed, Health Ministry Director Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said that the self-quarantine orders will now apply retroactively to anyone who has been in Italy in the past 14 days.
On Thursday afternoon, a flight from Bergamo, Italy landed in Ramon Airport in Eilat and only the Israeli citizens were allowed off the plane while 25 Italian citizens and other foreign nationals were denied entry. The foreign nationals were sent back to Bergamo with another 119 passengers leaving Israel. Another 23 foreign nationals on an EasyJet flight from Venice that landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday were also denied entry as well as nine passengers on an Alitalia flight from Milan.
Italy announced on Thursday that another 100 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, bringing the total of confirmed cases to over 400, the highest in Europe. Twelve fatalities have also been reported.
Meanwhile, another two of the Israelis hospitalized in Japan after contracting the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, have recovered and were released from the hospital in Tokyo on Thursday.
One of the Israelis, Shimon Dahan, is staying by Harav Binyamin and Efrat Edery of Beit Chabad in Tokyo until his flight home. The Ederys also hosted Rachel Biton on Tuesday, the first Israeli to recover and be released from the hospital, and helped her board her flight home. Biton arrived in Israel on Wednesday.
Dahan’s wife Shalva is the other Israeli who was declared healthy in Japan but was diagnosed with the coronavirus in Israel and is currently in treatment at Sheba.
The second Israeli who was released from the hospital, Rochale Ofarim, will remain in Japan until next week, when her husband, Oded Ofarim, who is still hospitalized in a Japanese hospital, is expected to be released.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)