A health inspector points a temperature gun to a passenger at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, on Tuesday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Coronavirus Evacuation Plane to Depart Jakarta for Hubei on Saturday

BY :NUR YASMIN AND TELLY NATHALIA

JANUARY 31, 2020

Jakarta. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Friday confirmed the government will send a wide-wing commercial airplane to evacuate Indonesian citizens trapped in coronavirus-affected areas in China's Hubei province, including the center of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan, sometime on Saturday.

The evacuation plan was drawn up on the order of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Thursday.  

The Chinese ambassador to Indonesia, Xiao Qian, gave the clearance for the evacuation on Friday morning after meeting FM Retno in Jakarta.

"The evacuation airplane will depart Jakarta in less than 24 hours," Retno said on Friday afternoon.

Only one airplane – not three as previously reported – will be sent to Wuhan to evacuate more than 200 Indonesians and fly them back to Indonesia without a layover.

The government has not announced where the airplane will be landing in Indonesia and how the arrivals will be treated, or if they will be quarantined. 

However, Anung Sugihantono, the director-general of disease prevention and control at the Health Ministry, said on Thursday that if the Indonesians are flown directly from Hubei to Indonesia, they would be quarantined for at least 14 days after landing.

Aviation expert Gerry Soedjatman tweeted today the government will use a Batik Air Airbus 330 for the evacuation and that the plane will land back in Indonesia at Kertajati Airport in West Java. He said the arrivals will be quarantined there.

By mid-afternoon, he had retracted his statement: "Flight information may change as the situation is developing. Point of entry into Indonesia is still not yet known. Aircraft choice may still change as [the] mission is still being finalized at this moment."

FM Retno said an advance team from the Indonesian embassy in Beijing has already arrived in Hubei to prepare for the evacuation.

She said only Indonesian citizens who are willing to be brought home will be evacuated. 

"Our preparation here to receive [them] is already ongoing. We're going to do everything according to the existing procedures and protocols," she said without elaborating.

The Indonesian government will also send medical equipment on board the evacuation plane to Wuhan to assist the city in its handling of the outbreak, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

The coronavirus outbreak has already killed 213 people in China, 204 of them in Hubei. The novel coronavirus (2019 nC0V) has spread to 21 countries across the globe, according the United States, Australia and Germany.

There are 243 Indonesians living in Hubei province, 100 of them in the city of Wuhan.

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