250 Israelis in isolation after 4 test COVID-positive on flight from Dubai

Hadassah-University Medical Center head Zeev Rotstein is one of the passengers • "Almost a week has gone by," he said. "They could have infected their whole neighborhoods."

United Arab Emirates delegates wave to the departing El Al plane at the end of IsraelUAE normalization talks in Abu Dhabi on September 1 (photo credit: EL AL)
United Arab Emirates delegates wave to the departing El Al plane at the end of IsraelUAE normalization talks in Abu Dhabi on September 1
(photo credit: EL AL)
Around 250 travelers, most of them Israelis, have entered quarantine after four passengers of the El Al flight they took last week from Dubai to Israel tested positive for coronavirus.
The flight landed last Wednesday night, but the passengers were only notified in the last day.
Among the passengers was Hadassah-University Medical Center head Prof. Zeev Rotstein, who told The Jerusalem Post that “passengers were contacted six days after their arrival in Israel” and that “this policy is wrong.”
“If there was a fear of infection, the initial contacts should have been isolated as soon as they landed,” he said. “Why, after almost a year of experience, do the epidemiological investigations take so long? They [the Health Ministry] are still contacting passengers. Almost a week has gone by – and if there were people on the plane who were in contact with these people and tested positive they could have infected their whole neighborhoods.
“They say better late than never, but I don’t really think it is efficient.”
In response, the Health Ministry said that "it takes several days for a patient to develop symptoms and be tested. Investigations begin immediately upon identification of the verified blue patient."
Rotstein claimed there were several other important Israelis on the flight, including a head of a large bank and the director-general of a ministry.
Recent studies have shown an overall low exposure risk on aircraft from airborne pathogens like the novel coronavirus. Rotstein said that the Health Ministry policy is that if there are less than four passengers diagnosed with the virus then other passengers do not enter quarantine. If there are four or more the passengers do.
The Health Ministry told the Post that in a flight where there are several patients who are not members of the same family and are in different parts of the plane, it is necessary to isolate all the occupants of the plane.
"It is estimated that the infection in the plane is low but definitely exists," the ministry said. "We know of many cases of aircraft infections around the world."
Rotstein added that he was wearing a special mask developed by the Israeli Institute of Biological Research that contains a coating that kills bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus, making it almost impossible for the virus to enter one’s body. 
Nonetheless, Rotstein said, “I will of course comply with the quarantine as determined by the Health Ministry.”
Earlier in the day, the Hebrew website Ynet reported that some 245 Israelis who returned from abroad tested positive for the coronavirus in the past two weeks.