Three Israelis Test Positive for Coronavirus on Cruise Ship Off Japan

Israel's Health Ministry said Sunday that three Israeli nationals who were on board a cruise ship that had been placed in a two-week quarantine tested positive for coronavirus.

They have been transferred to a Japanese hospital in mild condition, and more passengers are still undergoing tests.  

The Diamond Princess, owned by Carnival Corp, has been quarantined since arriving in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo, on February 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.

The ship, with some 3,700 passengers and crew on board, has the most coronavirus infections outside China. No one from the ship has died from the virus.

The Israeli Health Ministry is said to be in direct contact with Japanese authorities and the World Health Organization. Israel is expected to send an expert physician to accompany the Israelis while they are hospitalized and treated in Japan.

Prof. Eyal Leshem from Sheba Medical Center told Haaretz it will not be possible for Israelis who tested positive for Coronavirus to be flown back to Israel.

"It's problematic to fly an infected patient with such a contagious virus in a plane with a partially closed ventilation system," Leshem said, explaining that those who come into contact with patients, including the plane's crew, are at risk and would have to be quarantined for two weeks. "Luckily, they [Israeli patients] are being treated in Japan, where there is a modern health care system," he said.