Three Israelis aboard a cruise ship quarantined off Japan’s coast tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, making them the first Israeli nationals confirmed to have been infected with the virus, according to Israel’s Health Ministry.
Japanese authorities informed the ministry regarding the Israelis, reporting that each of the three shows mild symptoms. Other Israeli passengers aboard the vessel are currently being tested for the virus, the actual name of which is SARS-CoV-2.
According to Japan’s health minister, there are 355 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection among the 1,219 individuals who have been tested, including 73 individuals who tested positive but are not showing symptoms.
According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, two of the three infected Israelis have been removed from the ship to receive treatment from a doctor sent to Japan by Israeli Health Minister Ya’akov Litzman.
“We are negotiating with the Japanese regarding the return home of all the other [Israelis],” said Litzman at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday. “Our working premise has been that corona will arrive and we have made all the preparations.”
According to Israeli news site Walla, the Israelis aboard the quarantined ship are calling for more transparency and asking Israel to secure their release.
“Take us from here, throw us in some hangar in Israel,” said quarantined Israeli Shalva Dahan, according to the report. “I don’t care if I’m there for a month, but why leave us here, why not update us with what’s happening? Why do we have to get updates from the news? I saw what was going on on the deck—many ambulances, army, police. I said, enough, I’m going to my room, I don’t want to see this anymore.”
“I’m nervous, I don’t know what’s happening,” Lena Samuelov told Israeli public broadcaster Kan. “Everyone I know on the ship is not infected.”
Nicole Ben-David told Ynet, “We didn’t get any notification from the ship’s crew, doctors or the embassy. That only clarifies our point that this quarantine could be wrong and that we should have left. We were naive, we listened to the Japanese authorities. We are in danger at the moment if people are still being infected.”
News of the infected Israelis occurred the same day that China’s death toll reached 1,665, with the number of new cases dropping for a third consecutive day.