Israel Readies for Coronavirus Patients as Japan Confirms 99 More Cases on Cruise Ship

Japan has confirmed on Tuesday that 99 more people were infected by coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship where three Israelis were found to have the disease and 12 others are still being kept in quarantine.

The Japanese Health Ministry has been carrying out tests on passengers and crew on the ship, docked in Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo, where 454 were found to be infected so far. 

The three Israelis identified with the virus were taken for treatment at a Japanese hospital. The other 12 Israelis are expected to be released from quarantine on Wednesday, and return to Israel by the weekend.

Israeli health officials remain concerned that they could be carriers and bring the virus home with them. Upon their return, the Israelis will be put in quarantine for two weeks. They will also undergo further testing at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.

Tent with beds for potential coronavirus patients at Sheba Medical Center, February 2020.Tomer Appelbaum

Most experts say the new virus's incubation period is two weeks, but some believe it could last for as many as 24 days.

Sheba hospital has commenced preparations to accept the Israelis arriving from Japan and allocated a structure for their isolation, at a distance from any other ward. This structure has its own sewage, water and ventilation systems, not connected with those serving the rest of the hospital.

The food the Israelis will get will be prepared by a different kitchen, likely to make sure they don't use the same plates or cutlery as other patients. They will also be treated by a special medical team not associated with the rest of the hospital whose staff will be wearing protective gear and use "remote medicine" procedures.

The structure however is designated only for isolation, and does not have respiratory isolation rooms. If one of the cruise passengers develops symptoms and is found to carry coronavirus, he or she will be moved to yet another quarantine area at Sheba, which does have respiratory isolation rooms.