The Dr. Soeharso Hospital Ship docks at the naval base in Surabaya, East Java, on Thursday. The government will send the ship to evacuate 74 Indonesians stuck on Diamond Princess cruise ship due to coronavirus quarantine in Yokohama, Japan. (Antara Photo/Didik Suhartono)

Indonesia to Send Navy Hospital Ship to Evacuate Diamond Princess Crew Members


FEBRUARY 22, 2020

Jakarta. The Indonesian government plans to bring home its 74 citizens who have been quarantined inside Diamond Princess cruise ship off the Japanese city of Yokohama due to coronavirus outbreak, a health official said on Friday.

As the two-week onboard quarantine was concluded last week, governments around the world began to evacuate their citizens stuck on the ship.

Achmad Yurianto, secretary-general of the Health Ministry’s disease control and environmental health directorate, said a Navy hospital ship will pick up the Indonesian crew members who all will again be placed under quarantine for 28 days, double the period the WHO has required.

He said there are 78 Indonesian crew members in the cruise ship, four have tested positive for coronavirus and disembarked the ship for treatment at separate hospitals in Japan. 

There are hundreds more crew members of various nationalities who were put under strict surveillance by Japanese authorities during the onboard quarantine. 

Yurianto admitted the very serious problem the government is facing, because the cruise ship has become the second biggest coronavirus epicenter after China.

“We take extra precautions in handling this problem, because many people [onboard the ship] have been infected,” Yurianto told reporters at his office in Jakarta.

He said Japanese health authorities have collected clinical specimens of the 74 Indonesians for laboratory tests. If a crew member tests positive for coronavirus, he must stay in Japan for further treatment.

The Indonesian government is still waiting laboratory test results from Japan, he added.

Personel TNI Angkatan Laut memeriksa alat
An Indonesian Navy officer checks the Isolated Capsule Transporter inside Dr Soeharso Hospital Ship in the naval base in Surabaya, East Java, on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Didik Suhartono)

Additional test and examination will be conducted once they are aboard the Dr. Soeharso hospital ship, he said.

“Why do we need the double checks? Because they are classified as person under investigation. We will conduct thorough examination on them,” he said.

The examination is needed to separate the evacuees based on their health conditions during the home trip, he said.

Those with history of contacts with infected persons will be split from the others.

Yurianto added the government has not decided where the quarantine will take place. It could be the military base on Natuna Island, where nearly 300 Indonesians of mostly returnees from China have completed two-week observation, or at another facility, he said.