Two of the Israelis aboard the coronavirus cruise ship have disembarked

The 12 Israelis who have been quarantined aboard the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship should be back in Israel by Thursday, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Cruise ship Diamond Princess is seen anchored off the Yokohama Port, after ten people on the cruise liner have tested positive for coronavirus in Yokohama (photo credit: REUTERS)
Cruise ship Diamond Princess is seen anchored off the Yokohama Port, after ten people on the cruise liner have tested positive for coronavirus in Yokohama
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Two of the 12 Israelis who have been quarantined aboard the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship left the ship on Wednesday morning as passengers were finally released after two weeks, according to the Health Ministry and Foreign Ministry.
 
The rest of the Israeli passengers should be allowed to leave the ship today or tomorrow.
Although some passengers are being allowed off the boat, anyone who had contact with one of the 540 passengers who were infected by the coronavirus will have to remain an extra 14 days in quarantine before they are released.
The 12 Israelis who have been quarantined aboard the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship should be back in Israel by Thursday, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry, working with the country’s three major insurance carriers – Harel, Clal and Migdal – has arranged for a 14-seat private jet to fly from Thailand to Tokyo on Wednesday to pick up the Israelis after they complete their medical examinations in Japan. Upon their return, they will spend 14 days in isolation in a special hospital unit being designed at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, as instructed by the Health Ministry.
The facility will be housed in a building adjacent to the main hospital as a precaution to not infect other patients. The hospital allowed the media to photograph the location on Tuesday.
The Israeli Embassy in Tokyo is handling all of the aircraft’s landing arrangements in Japan and other logistics. The plane will be manned by a foreign crew.
The three Israelis – a couple and a single woman – who contracted the coronavirus will remain hospitalized in Japan.
Medical professionals called the quarantine on the Diamond Princess a "failed experiment" as it functioned more as an incubator for the virus instead of preventing its spread, according to AP.
Israeli consul to Japan Revital Ben Naim and Prof. Ran Nir-Paz from Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center met with the infected Israelis on Tuesday. They said the patients, who are being treated in Japanese military hospitals, are in stable condition and being well taken care of.
It is likely that the Israeli patients will be released within a week and then could fly back to Israel on a standard aircraft, unable to spread the disease or to catch it, he said, adding that their symptoms were particularly mild.
“The State of Israel remains better prepared than any other country” to tackle the coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Army Radio on Tuesday. “Neither the Israeli economy nor its foreign relations will be harmed by the government’s decision to ban citizens of Thailand, Macau, Singapore and Hong Kong from entering the country without first going into a 14-day quarantine.”
“I reject this assertion outright,” he said, noting that measures like these have been key to preventing the virus from entering Israel.

Maayan-Jaffe Hoffman contributed to this report.