722 dead, over 31,000 infected worldwide

2-year-old hospitalized in Israel over fears she caught coronavirus in Thailand

Toddler put in isolation according to Health Ministry guidelines, virus later ruled out; Israelis quarantined on ship off Japan mark Shabbat confined to their rooms

Hospital staff prepare for the arrival of a Chinese woman at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem amid fears she is infected with the coronavirus, January 27, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Hospital staff prepare for the arrival of a Chinese woman at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem amid fears she is infected with the coronavirus, January 27, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A two-year-old girl who recently flew from Thailand to Israel was put in isolation in a Kfar Saba hospital on Friday due to fears she was infected with the coronavirus.

The virus was ruled out on Saturday.

The girl was hospitalized in Meir Medical Center. Hospital staff said she suffered from fever and diarrhea, and due to Health Ministry instructions said “this is currently a condition that requires hospitalization in isolation.”

Medical personnel took samples from the girl and sent them to a laboratory for testing, the Ynet news site reported.

The Health Ministry on Friday updated its procedures for travelers feeling unwell after arriving from specific countries in the past 14 days, in light of the increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

In a statement, the ministry said that travelers coming from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Macau who have a fever, coughing or any other respiratory symptoms must seek medical help and undergo testing.

In addition, anyone who has been in close contact with an individual confirmed to have the virus must also be tested.

People cover their faces at Ben Gurion International Airport amid coronavirus fears, February 2, 2020. (Avshalom Shoshani/Flash90)

Unwell travelers must warn the medical center prior to their arrival; must cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth; and are asked to avoid using public transportation.

The number of deaths from the epidemic has jumped to over 700, surpassing the toll from the SARS outbreak on mainland China and Hong Kong almost two decades ago.

Another 86 people died from the virus over the past day, according to China’s national health commission, with all but five in hard-hit Hubei province, where the disease emerged in December.

In its daily update, the commission also confirmed another 3,399 new cases. There are now more than 31,774 confirmed infections in the country.

Japan on Friday reported 41 new cases of the coronavirus on a cruise ship that’s been quarantined in Yokohama harbor with about 3,700 people confined aboard, including Israeli passengers.

Roughly 15 Israelis are believed to be on the Diamond Princess ship; the Foreign Ministry said none are believed to be infected with the virus.

The Israeli passengers on Friday marked Shabbat confined to their rooms on board, Channel 13 reported.

“I still haven’t really gotten my head around it,” said Bruria Levy, one of the Israeli passengers. She and her daughter, Nicole Ben David, were confined to their room, while 10 other family members were scattered in rooms throughout the ship.

“Today we were supposed to be back home in Eilat already, and unfortunately we’re still here. We’re just hoping we don’t get infected, that we’ll go home healthy and that this story will come to a quick end,” Levy said.

“They just give us a meal at our door. I don’t know how we’ll hold up for 14 days like this,” Ben David said.

The new virus is in the coronavirus family that includes Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. It causes fever, cough, shortness of breath and, in severe cases, pneumonia.

China finished building a second new hospital Thursday to isolate and treat patients — a 1,500-bed center in Wuhan. Earlier this week, another rapidly constructed, 1,000-bed hospital in Wuhan with prefabricated wards and isolation rooms began taking patients.

Authorities also moved people with milder symptoms into makeshift hospitals at sports arenas, exhibition halls and other public spaces.

All together, more than 50 million people are under virtual quarantine in hard-hit Hubei province in an unprecedented — and unproven — bid to bring the outbreak under control.

Medical staff in protective clothes are seen carrying a patient from an apartment suspected of having the virus in Wuhan, in Hubei province of China, January 30, 2020. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP)

China’s official news agency said Friday that President Xi Jinping urged the US to “respond reasonably” to the virus outbreak in a phone call with US President Donald Trump.

Beijing has complained that the US was flying its citizens out of Wuhan but not providing any assistance to China.

The White House said Trump “expressed confidence in China’s strength and resilience in confronting the challenge” of the outbreak.

In Hong Kong, hospital workers demanding a shutdown of the territory’s border with mainland China were still on strike. The territory’s leader Carrie Lam announced a 14-day quarantine of all travelers entering the city from the mainland starting Saturday, but the government has refused to seal the border entirely. Taiwan has said it will refuse entry to all non-citizens or residents who have recently visited Hong Kong, Macao or China beginning Friday.

Testing of a new antiviral drug was began on a group of patients Thursday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The drug, Remdesivir, is made by US biotech company Gilead Sciences.

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