Israel is preparing for the return of its nationals currently quarantined aboard the coronavirus-struck cruise ship moored in a Japanese port.
So far, three of the 15 Israeli passengers have been diagnosed with the virus as their families demand their release from the quarantine that they termed a medical "experiment." The three Israelis who have been infected will remain hospitalized in Japan.
Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Prof. Itamar Grotto, who is in Japan, said Monday morning that he is working to have the 12 released from the Diamond Princess cruise liner before the quarantine period ends later this week.
Their release from the ship depends on whether the passengers get the results of health checks by Wednesday.
If released, they will be transferred from Yokohama Port where the ship is docked to the airport, where they will board a direct flight to Israel. Upon arrival in the country, they will be required to spend up to 14 days in isolation.
There are 454 people on board the Diamond Princess, which currently has some 3,700 passengers and crew. The number of infected has grown by 99 since Sunday.
On Sunday night, the American passengers were evacuated; 14 of them have been infected.
Yonatan Levy, a relative of one of the Israeli passengers now infected told Ynet that she had been taken to a coastal hospital, along with the Israeli couple previously diagnosed with the virus.
"They say that they are in good health, that the health services are not overwhelmed. She has no symptoms except perhaps light sniffles, although we have not really had chance to speak. Although she is an older woman, she is a very strong woman and I am certain she will come out of this," said Levy, whose mother, sister and other family members were on board the ship.
"As early as the second day of quarantine we told them that what they were doing was dangerous," he said. "We need to assume that the entire ship has been infected via the ventilation system. We have to evacuate all of them, like the Americans did: Three hundred and eighty people were all evacuated. Boom," he said.
"One has to assume that if they have been on the ship for 14 days on top of another 15 days of cruising, the chances are that everyone is infected. America did it for 400 passengers, we only have 15. "