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Israel asked that its passengers be allowed to leave cruise ship quarantined for coronavirus. Japan said no.

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s foreign minister asked his Japanese counterpart to allow Israeli passengers on a cruise liner docked in Tokyo Bay in quarantine due to the deadly coronavirus to leave the ship.

Israel Katz said he promised to quarantine the passengers in Israel, if necessary. There are 15 known Israelis on the ship, the British-flagged Diamond Princess, which is managed by Princess Cruise Lines. Some 218 passengers and crew on board have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Japan Times reported Thursday.

Katz said in an interview Thursday on Army Radio that his request was denied.

He told a special briefing held at the Foreign Ministry earlier in the day that he would do his “upmost” to bring home the Israelis and also asserted that officials would “be taking all the necessary precautions to prevent the virus from entering Israel,” Ynet reported.

The quarantine reportedly will be lifted on Feb. 19, two weeks after it went into effect.

Israel’s ambassador to Japan, Yaffa Ben-Ari, told the briefing that all the Israeli nationals on the ship appear to be healthy, Ynet reported.

Representatives of Israel’s Health Ministry were scheduled to travel to Japan to help the Israelis quarantined on the ship.