First Coronavirus Case in Israel, Cruise Ship Passenger Tests Positive

The first case of the novel coronavirus was diagnosed in Israel, after a passenger from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been quarantined off the coast of Japan tested positive for the virus on Friday.

The woman diagnosed with the virus is one of 11 Israelis who were aboard the ship, which was quarantined for two weeks by Japanese authorities. The Health Ministry said the other Israelis' tests were negative.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 63

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 63Haaretz

The ministry said the woman is under quarantine and being monitored, and that the infection did not occur in Israel.

The passenger who arrived in Israel on Friday are to be held in quarantine for two weeks. Four passengers identified as carriers of the virus remain hospitalized in Japan.

Those who have returned are held in a quarantine area that is not connected to the hospital's sewage, water and ventilation systems. Their luggage is also being held separately, with relatives bringing necessary belongings to the hospital.  

Passengers from the Diamond Princess arrive at Sheba Medical Center. Sheba Medical Center

Over 600 people were infected with the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with two dying after being taken offboard. 

In this case, the government knew ahead of time that a small group with a high risk of being infected was arriving in the country, after receiving preliminary examinations in Japan. The question is how the health system will handle a situation of wider infection. Just in the past week, 5,000 Israelis have returned from the list of countries where the virus is endemic, according to the Health Ministry.