JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli woman who was a passenger aboard a coronavirus-hit cruise ship tested positive upon return to her home country on Friday, Israel’s health ministry said.
She was one of 11 Israeli passengers who were brought back to Israel after being aboard the cruise liner Diamond Princess, carrying 3,700 people, which was quarantined off Yokohama since arriving on Feb. 3.
The woman, an adult, was being held in quarantine in the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv, in central Israel, health officials said.
“In the course of testing conducted by the Health Ministry’s central laboratory, one of the passengers who returned from the ship in Japan was found to be positive,” the Israeli health ministry said in a statement on Friday.
“The laboratory is pursuing confirmation of the finding. The remaining returning passengers tested negative today. The patient is in quarantine and under supervision and this is not an infection that took place in Israel.”
Nadav Matzner, deputy spokesman for Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service, earlier said that the 11 Israelis had been flown back from Japan to Israel on a small private aircraft, arriving at Ben Gurion Airport around 4 a.m.
“They were landed in the far end of the runway so they won’t be able to touch anything,” Matzner said.
Speaking before the ministry confirmed that one had tested positive, Matzner said that the passengers appeared to be healthy. “We spoke to them, they have no fever, any other symptoms,” he said.
Video footage released by the ambulance service and hospital showed the passengers walking off the jet wearing masks and waving to the assembled greeting party, who wore masks and protective clothing.
They were then shown boarding a Magen David Adom minibus – the driver and assistants also wearing protective clothing – and being driven to Sheba Medical Center where a quarantine facility had been set up with green and white tents erected in an arrivals area.
More than 600 people aboard the cruise liner have been infected with the virus. Two of them – both Japanese in their 80s – died on Thursday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a low-level travel advisory for Japan. In a bid to contain the virus, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said it would either cancel or postpone major indoor events it has sponsored for the next three weeks.
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