Indonesian crew members of Diamond Princess cruise ship arrive at Kertajati Airport in Majalengka, West Java on Sunday night after a flight from Japan. The 69 crew members will undergo coronavirus observation on an island near Jakarta. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

Diamond Princess Crew Members Arrive from Japan for Covid-19 Observation


MARCH 02, 2020

Jakarta. A Garuda Indonesia plane carrying 69 crew members of coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship landed at Kertajati Airport in Majalengka, West Java, just before midnight on Sunday.

Footages from local news broadcasters showed all the crew members, who have spent weeks under quarantine by Japanese authorities, were sprayed with disinfectant once they disembarked the plane. 

Medical workers in yellow protective suits waited for the evacuees under the plane stairs ready with the sprayers. 

The crew members were then taken by four buses to Indramayu port before continuing their trip on a naval hospital ship to Sebaru Island near Jakarta, where they will undergo observation for another four weeks. 


All Healthy

Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy said all the evacuees have undergone multiple medical checkups before and during their home flight and been declared healthy by Japanese authorities. 

"They all are healthy, otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to evacuate. The WHO has ruled that [coronavirus] sufferers cannot be evacuated," Muhadjir told a press conference at the airport early on Monday.

He added Japanese authorities have taken medical examinations on the 69 Indonesian crew members using the polymerase chain reaction method and found that they were negative of Covid-19, the formal name of novel coronavirus.

On their way to Kertajati from Japan’s Haneda Airport, each of the evacuees took double medical checkups, he said.

Further medical procedures will follow on the Dr. Soeharso naval hospital ship, where doctors will take clinical specimens from their blood and saliva for laboratory tests, the minister said.

The 69 evacuees will join 188 Indonesian crew members of World Dream cruise ship who have been placed under a two-week quarantine on Sebaru Island since Wednesday. 

“The Indonesian crew members from Diamond Princess and World Dream will be separated temporarily," Muhadjir said. 

"This is all just to follow procedures because actually all the Indonesian returnees are healthy," he said.

Doubts at Home

The Indonesian government has repeatedly claimed zero case of coronavirus local transmission, despite growing doubts among foreign governments over the validity of such a claim.

Even at home, the hashtag #CoronavirusIndonesia drew thousands of comments from Indonesian internet users, with many of them citing media reports about several foreign travelers who tested positive for the virus after returning from Indonesia.

Others pointed to Saudi Arabia’s decision to suspend minor hajj pilgrimage Umrah by Indonesian Muslims because of coronavirus fear. 

“This is why I'd rather stay here in the U.S. despite there are corona cases here. I won’t go back until the government tells us the truth and protects the people. At least here the government has tried to prevent and overcome it. I'm more worried about uncertainty,” Twitter account PeaceForPeople wrote on the hashtag.

Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto has said the fact that Indonesia is free from coronavirus is “a blessing from God”, claiming that the government had nothing to hide in its handling of the highly contagious disease.

But at least one internet user disagreed with him.

“There’s no virus when you don’t even acknowledge there’s a virus! Allah has nothing to do with it,” read a tweet by @BringerofTruth.