Israeli envoy goes to Japan to return Israelis on coronavirus cruise ship

"My goal is to make every effort so that the Israelis who are there can quickly and safely reach home," said Health Ministry director-general Prof. Itamar Grotto.

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)
Health Ministry director-general Prof. Itamar Grotto left for Japan Saturday night to work on bringing home the Israelis stuck aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined due to cases of coronavirus, Mako reported.
Grotto is expected to arrive in Japan tomorrow afternoon.
Currently, 250 coronavirus cases have been confirmed aboard the cruise ship – the largest amount of concentrated cases in the world, outside of China. Of the 15 Israelis on board, none have been confirmed to be infected.
Having made arrangements with the Japanese Health and Foreign ministries, as well as with the Israeli Embassy in Japan, Grotto said that "I will do everything to get them back quickly and safely, while maintaining the health of both the passengers and the Israeli public." 
"My goal is to make every effort so that the Israelis who are there can quickly and safely reach home," he added, according to Mako.
Earlier on Saturday, the Japanese Health Ministry announced that the passengers on board the ship will be taken off and examined at hospitals.
At the same time, the US announced plans to evacuate the 380 American citizens on board, to be isolated at special facilities in Texas and California.
Last Wednesday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz announced that efforts were underway to evacuate the Israelis on board the ship within next week. Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman said that while they hope no Israelis are infected, but if they are, they will be treated in Israel.
The Health Ministry began working on new guidelines for the treatment of the virus, should it arrive in Israel. These treatment guidelines will be based on the experiences other countries have had fighting the virus and will include drugs used in the treatment of the flu and HIV/AIDS.
The first coronavirus cases surfaced in December in the city of Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, and has since spread all over the world. Currently, over 67,000 cases have been confirmed along with 1,527 deaths, though only three deaths have occurred outside of mainland China.


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