(February 21, 2020 / JNS) A group of 11 Israelis will be spending their first Shabbat in the Jewish state after being quarantined in Japan on the Diamond Princess cruise ship due to the coronavirus for the last two weeks. The travelers landed on Friday and were immediately taken to a special isolation wing at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer where they will remain quarantined.
Since their arrival in Israel, at least one of the passengers was found to have Covid-19. Four other Israelis who were previously diagnosed remain hospitalized in Japan.
More than 75,000 people have been infected worldwide with the coronavirus since late December—the majority of them in China. However, about 30 other countries are now reporting at least one case of the coronavirus. The death toll, according to the World Health Organization, stands at more than 2,100 people.
Prior to this, no cases had been reported in Israel, which has been taking precautions against the illness should residents be found to be infected.
Officials with Magen David Adom in Israel facilitated the transportation of the cruise-ship passengers from the airport to the hospital, saying they took the necessary safety measures to avoid contamination.
“The paramedics who evacuated them were provided with full kits designed for these cases in order to prevent any possibility of infection,” said MDA director general Eli Bin. “MDA works in full coordination and cooperation with the health and foreign ministries, with the airport authority and the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, and will continue to assist in the national effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Israel.”
MDA paramedic Rami Meushar of Lod, Israel, said “it’s a great honor, as a paramedic in the national rescue organization of Israel, to take part in the national effort to prevent the spread of corona in Israel. To greet the Israelis as they finally landed after being held in isolation on the cruise ship was very exciting. It was important to us to act courteous, and we took all measures to make sure that they felt calm and safe.”
The group of Israelis who returned home were seen on Thursday in videos posted on social media after their release from the cruise ship and singing “Am Yisrael Chai” as they rode a bus from the ship to the airport.
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