3 more Israelis recover from coronavirus after infection on cruise ship

One patient set to be discharged from Israeli hospital, 2 slated to return from Japan; woman being treated in Ramat Gan is only Israeli in country still sick

An embassy vehicle waits for Israeli passengers to leave the Diamond Princess cruise ship where they spent two weeks in quarantine due to an outbreak of the coronavirus on board, February 20, 2020. (Israeli Embassy Tokyo)
An embassy vehicle waits for Israeli passengers to leave the Diamond Princess cruise ship where they spent two weeks in quarantine due to an outbreak of the coronavirus on board, February 20, 2020. (Israeli Embassy Tokyo)

An Israeli who contracted the novel coronavirus on board a cruise ship off Japan’s coast and then was placed in isolation at a hospital outside of Tel Aviv is set to be released after apparently making a full recovery.

In addition, an Israeli man who was also infected on the ship is reportedly waiting to fly back from Japan after getting the all-clear from medical teams there, and an Israeli woman has also been released from a Tokyo hospital while her husband continues to receive treatment.

The patient in a hospital outside Tel Aviv, who has not been identified, was one of two confirmed cases of the COVID-19 strain in the country.

Fifteen Israelis were among some 3,700 who were kept on the Diamond Princess ship for two weeks off the coast of Japan earlier this month, after a passenger who had already disembarked in Hong Kong was found to be infected.

Israelis who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Japan are seen on a plane bringing them to Israel, February 20, 2020. (Israeli Embassy in Japan)

Four Israelis were later confirmed to have the virus and hospitalized in Japan, and two were diagnosed upon their return to Israel. The other Israeli former passengers are in a precautionary quarantine and under observation at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.

According to Channel 12 on Thursday, an Israeli man who was infected by the virus on the Diamond Princess ship and treated in Japan has also been cleared to return to Israel after making a recovery. Shimon Dahan is awaiting his return flight at a local Chabad Jewish center after being released from the Japanese hospital, according to the network.

His wife, Shalva, is the only Israeli confirmed to still have the disease in Israel, which was detected upon her return with other passengers on the Diamond Princess. She is being treated at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.

“I feel immensely relieved, but I’m sad because my wife doesn’t yet know,” he told the TV station.

Ruchele Ofarim was also released from a hospital in Tokyo, Hebrew media reported. Her husband Oded remains hospitalized.

On Wednesday, another Israeli woman who contracted coronavirus on the quarantined cruise ship and made a recovery returned to the country from Japan. In video circulating on social media on Tuesday, Rachel Biton was seen wearing a mask and dragging a suitcase as she appeared to be released from the medical facility in Japan.

Overall, at least 705 people have been diagnosed with the virus on board the Diamond Princess, including passengers who were allowed to leave the boat after testing negative. There have been four deaths linked to the virus from the ship.

A passenger stands on the balcony of the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored at the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Feb. 7, 2020 (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Israel has taken far-reaching steps to prevent an outbreak, banning entry to foreigners who were recently in China and a handful of East Asian countries and forcing all Israelis recently in these areas to self-quarantine for 14 days. On Wednesday, the ministry added Italy to the list.

In a dramatic statement Wednesday, the Health Ministry urged Israelis to seriously consider refraining from traveling abroad.

“If you don’t genuinely have to fly — don’t do so,” the ministry said in a travel warning.

In making the announcement, Israel became the first country to urge its citizens to refrain from international travel entirely because of the outbreak, which started in China in December and has since infected over 80,000 worldwide and claimed well over 2,000 lives, almost all of them in China.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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