The first Israelis infected with the deadly coronavirus have been reported.
By World Israel News Staff
Just hours after Health Ministry director-general Prof. Itamar Grotto left for Japan to bring home Israelis trapped on the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan, Japanese authorities announced on Sunday that three of the Israelis are confirmed to have caught the deadly coronavirus.
Israel’s Health Ministry reported they had received word from Japan and that the Israelis have shown mild symptoms.
Japan said that of the 1,219 people it had tested on the ship, 355 had tested positive with 73 showing symptoms.
There are 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess. Japan initially announced the passengers must remain on board for 14 days, the incubation period of the coronavirus. The rising number of sick will likely extend the quarantine.
Israel, under pressure from families with loved ones on the ship, has been trying to get its citizens off the ship.
On his departure, Prof. Grotto said, “I will do everything to get them back quickly and safely, while maintaining the health of both the passengers and the Israeli public.”
The U.S. is also working to remove its citizens from the cruise ship.
“Based on the high number of COVID-19 cases identified onboard the Diamond Princess, the Department of Health and Human Services made an assessment that passengers and crew members onboard are at high risk of exposure,” the U.S. Embassy in Japan said.
Israel’s government has taken precautionary measures to prepare for the eventual arrival of the deadly virus to its shores.
On Feb. 2, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a large-scale discussion including ministers, ministry director generals and all relevant staff officials on national preparations to deal with the coronavirus.
Netanyahu said following the meeting: “We have just concluded an in-depth and detailed discussion with all Israeli government officials on how to deal with the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“Our readiness will include all arms of the Israeli administration. Our foremost goal is to postpone the arrival of the virus to Israel. I say ‘postpone’ because its arrival is unavoidable. We will then identify, treat, isolate and deal with those infected.”
He said the coronavirus’ arrival was “unavoidable” despite the Chinese government’s efforts.
“We have closed land crossings, seaports and airports to arrivals from China; this is temporary,” he said at the time.