Indonesian health officials prepare themselves to examine passengers returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan for coronavirus concerns at the Hang Nadim Airport on Batam island on Sunday. (Antara Photo)

Indonesia Closes Borders to All Travelers From China


FEBRUARY 02, 2020

Jakarta. The Indonesian government decided on Sunday to close borders to all travelers from China, after Sunday's successful evacuation of most of its citizens from Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China's Hubei province.

The government will bar all direct flights from mainland China starting at midnight on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said in a press conference on Sunday.


Indonesia would also close its borders to travelers who have spent more than 14 days in mainland China, Retno said. 

The government has also suspended all visas and visa-on-arrival services for Chinese citizens temporarily, she said. 

Retno did not say when the government would lift the bans. 

"The government also advises all Indonesians not to travel to Mainland China for the time being," Retno said. 

The government took the decision after a medical team brought home 238 Indonesians to Natuna Island on Sunday to enter a quarantine, after flying overnight from Wuhan.

The returnees are the majority of Indonesians who had been trapped in the province for weeks after China put a lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak. 

The medical team deemed three Indonesians were unfit to make the trip and have to stay for further observation. Four others decided to stay in Wuhan at will. 

Batik Air's Airbus A330 carrying the returnees arrived at Hang Nadiem International Airport in Batam at 8.45 a.m. 

The passengers underwent a medical check inside the airplane and got sprayed with disinfectant solution before being transferred to three military aircrafts bound for Natuna Island 40 minutes later. 

"They will be placed under quarantine for 14 days along with the medical team that picked them up and the advance team members," Retno said. The advance team comprises five Foreign Ministry officials who have worked for the Chinese government’s permit to take home the Indonesians.

"There are 285 people under quarantine in total. Thank God they are all healthy," she said.

The government deployed an additional 117 police officers from Riau Island Police' mobile brigade to Natuna to secure the quarantine area. 

The deployment came after hundreds of Natuna residents protested the government decision to put the quarantine in their island.