Israeli on coronavirus-hit cruise ship tested positive upon return to Israel

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli woman who was aboard the coronavirus-hit cruise ship Diamond Princess tested positive for the illness after returning to Israel on Friday but was in good condition and not showing any symptoms, health officials said.

The woman was one of 11 Israeli passengers who were brought home after being aboard the cruise liner, which was carrying 3,700 people and was quarantined off Yokohama in Japan after arriving on Feb. 3.

She was being held in quarantine in the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv, health officials said.

“In the course of testing conducted by the Health Ministry’s central laboratory, one of the passengers who returned from the ship in Japan was found to be positive,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The 10 other returning passengers had tested negative, it said.

A spokeswoman for Sheba Medical Center said later that “the infected woman is in very good condition, without any symptoms (such as fever or coughing)”.

The 11 Israelis were flown home on a small aircraft, arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in the early hours, said Nadav Matzner, deputy spokesman for Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service.

“They were landed in the far end of the runway so they won’t be able to touch anything,” Matzner said.

Video footage released by the ambulance service and hospital showed the passengers walking off the jet wearing masks and waving to a greeting party, who wore masks and protective clothing.

They were then shown boarding a minibus - the driver and assistants also wearing protective clothing - and being driven to hospital where a quarantine facility had been set up.

More than 600 people aboard the cruise liner have been infected with the virus. Two of them - both Japanese in their 80s - died on Thursday.

Reporting by Stephen Farrell and Dan Wiliams; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry