One of the 11 Israelis who returned to the country Friday morning after spending more than two weeks in quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has tested positive for the coronavirus.
This is the first case of the virus diagnosed in Israel.
The Sheba Medical Center confirmed Friday that one of the people now quarantined at the hospital has tested positive for COVID-19, but did not identify the patient who is now isolated from the other 10 and receiving treatment.
The 11 Israelis arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport a few hours before the diagnosis and were transported directly to the quarantine area at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Four other Israelis who were on the cruise liner have also rested positive for the virus and remain in Japan, where they are being treated.
They will be allowed to reunite with their families after the 14-day period of isolation is over.
"We are healthy, we are not sick," said of the passengers, as he said a blessing for his safe return to Israel.
The 11 settled into their living quarters at Sheba and will be communicating via a control room nearby.
Dr. Galia Barkai, the head of Telemedicine Services at Sheba, was waiting to welcome the group.
"I know this is a complicated time for you and you will not be allowed to see your families or walk around, we will try our best to make your stay a pleasant one," she said.
Sheba's director, Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, said that the main focus would be on easing the fears of the 11 people and quickly verifying their medical state.
"We are currently trying to mitigate the level of anxiety and uncertainty as we examine the patients to see whether they have been exposed to the virus," he said. "We will know more later in the day."
The private jet used to bring the Israelis home, made one stop to refuel in Georgia before landing at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The crew left immediately after the passengers disembarked, in accordance with local Health Ministry instructions.
The medical center conducted two drills Thursday, simulating the transport of the 11 people from the airport.
Yoni Levi, whose mother and sisters were among those who were on the ship and returned Friday, said the families were given a tour of the facility and an explanation of the expected treatment.
"We have brought them items from home and put them in their rooms and will see them in two weeks. Until then we will be talking to them via Skype," he said.
A spokesperson for the families thanked the people of Israel and the medical teams for their concern and dedication.
According to the World Health Organization, over half of the coronavirus cases outside of China were on board the Diamond Princess.
First published: 13:16, 02.21.20