The 11 Israeli passengers on the coronavirus-hit ship in Japan who have not tested positive for the disease all disembarked the cruise liner on Thursday and are already on their way back to Israel. They are set to land in the country early Friday morning after taking off on a direct 12-hour flight from Tokyo to Tel Aviv.
Fifteen Israeli nationals spent the past two weeks in quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess liner, which has become the biggest concentration of infections outside of China, with more than 540 people infected out of about 3,700 passengers and crew who were initially on board.
The other four Israelis who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus had been transferred from the ship to remote military hospitals near Tokyo, where the ship is docked.
Out of 11, two Israelis left the ship on Wednesday along with 500 others who disembarked the ship docked at Yokohama.
Eliyahu Eliowitch, a representative of Israelis who were on board the ship, said they have mixed feelings about their journey back home.
“On the one hand they were released but on the other, some of their family members will remain in Japan for medical tests,” he said. “We thank everyone for the support and hope the rest of Israelis will return home soon."
Israeli consul in Japan, Revital Ben-Naim, said the four infected Israelis - all pensioners - are feeling well and are being treated in a hospital in Tokyo.
The Health Ministry said Prof. Ran Nir-Paz, an infectious disease specialist from Hadassah Medical Center, will stay in Japan and continue to accompany the four Israelis infected with the virus.
In the meantime, two passengers from the ship moored near Tokyo have died and 29 people were in a serious condition, Japanese media has reported, as a second group of passengers disembarked after two-weeks quarantined onboard.
Public broadcaster NHK said the deceased passengers were an 87-year-old Japanese man and an 84-year-old Japanese woman.